Another drop-off in weather-driven demand expectations from the updated guidance had natural gas futures trading several cents lower early Wednesday. The August Nymex contract was down 3.2 cents to $2.268/MMBtu shortly after 8:30 a.m. ET.
The latest forecast heading into Wednesday’s session was “slightly weaker,” with both the American and European data showing fewer gas-weighted degree days in the outlook compared to 24 hours ago, according to Bespoke Weather Services.
The “upper air pattern” by the middle of the 11-15 day period in the Global Ensemble Forecast System (GEFS) data implies cooler temperatures, “which may be part of what the market is taking note of this morning, as such a pattern would bring another shot for a few days of below normal demand,” Bespoke said. The European data doesn’t show this, adding some uncertainty to the outlook, “though we suspect that” if confirmed “it would likely be another brief cooler period before things heat back up.
“We are looking past the peak of normal temperatures, however, so in absolute terms, we are unlikely to equal the heat that we saw last week from here on out, even if hotter versus normal.”
Radiant Solutions made a small cooler adjustment in its latest six- to 10-day forecast for the Midwest thanks to a “deeper trough early in the period.”
“Temperatures are forecast to fall back into the normal and slightly below normal categories here in association. Areas from the Midwest toward the South are forecast in the normal category in the period composite, while aboves are in the West...Above normal temperatures are also in the Northeast, warmest in the early half and easing with mid to late period unsettledness.”
Radiant also noted cooler trends in the Midwest further out in the 11-15 day time frame.
Both the Global Forecast System and European models “project a disturbance to track across Canada, and today’s changes are along recent biases in models to not be deep enough with an associated trough at longer lead times,” the forecaster said. “In general, the large scale pattern is similar to that in the six- to 10-day period, with above normal temperatures focused in the West and East while near normal readings are in the Central and South.”
Price action Tuesday, which saw the August contract fail to hang onto gains from earlier in the week, suggested that “Monday’s rebound may already be petering out,” according to EBW Analytics Group CEO Andy Weissman.
“This outcome would not be surprising,” Weissman said. Projected cooling degree days for “weeks 2 and 3 are well below last week’s peaks and are not high enough to drive cash market prices above last week’s level...Absent a major weather forecast shift, the August contract is likely to struggle in attempting to post further gains.
“The most likely scenario is that natural gas will continue to lose ground during the remainder of the week.”
September crude oil futures were trading 16 cents higher at $56.93/bbl shortly after 8:30 a.m. ET, while August RBOB gasoline was down about 1.2 cents to $1.8482/gal.