With overnight forecasts maintaining a similar outlook for October, including above-normal temperatures that could curb heating demand later this month, natural gas futures were trading close to even early Wednesday. The November Nymex contract was off 1.2 cents to $2.271/MMBtu at around 8:40 a.m. ET.
The overall weather picture remained unchanged overnight, with higher demand this week likely to be followed by a “lower than normal demand regime” that could extend through the middle of October and beyond, according to Bespoke Weather Services.
“The pattern remains skewed to the warmer side overall, resulting in well below normal” heating degree days, the forecaster said. Based on the current setup, it “favors warmer than normal conditions prevailing on into the latter portion of the month as well, which will mark quite a difference” compared with the cold observed in October 2018.
Maxar’s Weather Desk noted cooler trends for Oct. 7-11 in its latest forecast Wednesday, with changes focused under high pressure in the central Lower 48 early in this period.
“Given the feature’s Pacific origins, the forecast carries slightly below normal temperatures in association,” the forecaster said. “There remains uncertainty in the south extent of the feature, but recent model trends suggest more of the South could carry these cooler anomalies. The West likewise trends cooler, particularly in the Northwest under a trough in the second half.
“Overall, the period carries above normal coverage in the Southwest, while variability elsewhere lends a more seasonal outcome.”
Further out, Maxar said its latest 11-15 day forecast covering the Oct. 12-16 period was “mostly similar to previous expectations,” showing above normal temperatures for the Midcontinent and near-normal conditions along the East Coast.
Analysts at EBW Analytics Group highlighted an increase in the January contract premium to November during Tuesday’s trading.
“While it is not unusual for winter contracts to descend at a slower pace than the front-month, the pace of the increase in the spread during recent trading may be an indicator that the January contract could soon provide additional support -- and the sharp downward move of the past two weeks is close to becoming fulfilled,” they said.
The relative strength in the January contract may have been triggered by a shift in the longer-term weather outlook, according to EBW.
There have been “signs that global winds are starting to pick up speed, potentially strengthening demand for natural gas later in October,” the EBW analysts said. Guidance shows the potential for the Madden-Julian Oscillation to “shift to a more neutral phase and for blocking to increase.
“The keys for the rest of this week will be whether this trend continues and the size of Thursday’s reported injection. Analysts are setting a high bar for Thursday” with predictions in the triple digits. “A draw below this level, if coupled with a cooler shift, could send natural gas prices back up.”
November crude oil futures were up 19 cents to $53.81/bbl shortly after 8:40 a.m. ET, while November RBOB gasoline was off fractionally to $1.5711/gal.