Amid a mix of overnight changes to the weather outlook and coming off heavy selling over the past couple weeks, natural gas futures were steady early Tuesday. The September Nymex contract was trading 0.3 cents higher at $2.119/MMBtu shortly after 8:30 a.m. ET.
The overnight weather data showed a mix of changes to the outlook, trending slightly cooler for this weekend and early next week while trending a little hotter Aug. 11-14, according to NatGasWeather.
“No major changes overall, as the coming pattern into mid-August still isn’t nearly hot enough to impress and maintains a bearish bias,” the forecaster said. The upcoming pattern features “a barrage of weather systems with showers and cooling” expected to “sweep across the Midwest and east-central U.S. into mid-August, including deep into the Southeast.
“...The net result of the coming pattern is for weekly storage builds to again print larger than normal to further improve deficits versus the five-year average,” NatGasWeather said. “Unless hotter patterns show up in the weather maps soon,” the current year versus five-year average deficit could shrink from minus 151 Bcf to close to minus 100 Bcf by mid-August.
Bespoke Weather Services similarly noted a mix of changes in its latest forecast Tuesday, with the overall pattern suggesting weather-driven demand will be close to normal over the 15-day outlook period.
“We do still see models gradually warming up the back of the 11-15 day, however, not to a level that is ‘hot’ yet, but giving some support to our idea that some anomalous heat can return to the picture as we get toward the middle of August,” Bespoke said. “For now, it is fair to say that the cooler momentum of the last several days has slowed, if not come to a halt.
“We believe that the back of the 11-15 day can continue to gradually shift hotter over the next few days, as the current push toward a more El Nino-like pattern is not expected to be a sustainable one.”
Looking at the recent slide in futures prices, it’s important to note the timing, according to EBW Analytics Group.
“The current sell-off was triggered in part by weather forecasts calling for record heat to be replaced with temperatures close to historical norms. In this sense, the timing is understandable,” said EBW CEO Andy Weissman. “Importantly, though, the plunge in prices comes at a time when” cooling degree day totals “are still high in absolute terms. By the third or fourth week in August, demand is likely to fall off sharply.
“Further, if current forecasts for much warmer-than-normal weather from mid-September through November validate, weather-driven demand could be exceptionally low this fall. Given this feeble demand, steep further price declines seem likely.”
September crude oil futures were trading 33 cents higher at $57.20/bbl shortly after 8:30 a.m. ET, while August RBOB gasoline was trading about 1.5 cents higher at $1.8786/gal.