As traders prepared to turn their attention to the latest government storage data, potentially another plump weekly injection, natural gas futures were trading slightly higher early Thursday. The November Nymex contract was up 2.0 cents to $2.254/MMBtu shortly after 8:30 a.m. ET.
The Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) weekly storage report, due out at 10:30 a.m. ET, is expected to show continued looseness in the market. Estimates have ranged widely from an 80 Bcf injection to a 107 Bcf injection for the week ended Oct. 4. A Wall Street Journal poll of 13 participants pointed to a median build of 94 Bcf, and a Bloomberg survey of 14 analysts had a 99 Bcf median. NGI projected a 94 Bcf injection.
The EIA recorded a 91 Bcf build for the same week last year, and the five-year average stands at 89 Bcf.
“It was cooler than normal over much of the West into the Northern Plains as weather systems tracked through” during the report period, NatGasWeather said. “Our algorithm predicts a build of 94 Bcf.”
As for the overnight guidance, all models shed demand from the 15-day outlook, including the European model, which has continued to project significantly less heating demand versus the American Global Forecast System (GFS) model, according to NatGasWeather.
“Overall, the GFS would still be considered neutral through Oct. 19, while the European model would be viewed as solidly bearish,” the forecaster said. “We expect the markets believe the GFS is too cold.”
A reported build in line with surveys could allow bulls to gain back some of the losses recorded during Wednesday’s session, according to EBW Analytics Group analysts.
“Yesterday’s sell-off, on a day on which weather-related signals were mixed, may have been triggered in part by bears betting that the recent string of extremely bearish” EIA reports will continue Thursday, EBW said early Thursday. The firm was expecting a build in line with major surveys at 96 Bcf, “which might reverse a portion of yesterday’s losses.”
Meanwhile, looking at the latest supply picture, Genscape Inc.’s estimate for Wednesday’s Lower 48 production climbed back above 92 Bcf/d for the first time in over a week. That came after a nearly 1.7 Bcf/d upward revision based on late-cycle nomination data, according to the firm.
“Revisions of this magnitude are common during shoulder seasons and thus require caution when dealing with top-day estimates,” Genscape senior natural gas analyst Rick Margolin said. “The largest revisions (by far) this fall have been taking place in the East, followed by the Rockies and Gulf Coast areas. With yesterday’s output estimated at 92.49 Bcf/d, month-to-date production now appears to be averaging 91.57 Bcf/d.”
November crude oil futures were trading 55 cents higher at $53.14/bbl shortly after 8:30 a.m. ET, while November RBOB gasoline was up about 1.1 cents to $1.5980/gal.