Coming off a large cold shift in the previous day’s forecast, guidance early Wednesday showed more modest cooler trends, but that wasn’t enough to extend the recent natural gas futures rally. The December Nymex contract was off 2.5 cents to $2.837/MMBtu shortly after 8:40 a.m. ET.
The latest forecast from Bespoke Weather Services underwent a “very small” colder adjustment overnight, picking up a couple of gas-weighted degree days (GWDD) compared to Tuesday’s outlook.
“We do not yet see an end to the colder pattern, although the strength of the cold out in the 11-15 day period does look weaker than we see in next week’s forecast, where a couple of days” could end up challenging record highs for daily national GWDD totals going back to at least 1982, Bespoke said. “The key to the pattern remains the upper level ridging that parks over the region from Alaska into Western Canada, as this keeps a downstream upper level trough focused around the Midwest, pulling colder air southward.
“The parallels to last year remain quite astounding, even to the point of seeing signals that suggest an end to the colder pattern toward the very end of the month or into December. Until that time, cold likely continues to rule the pattern.”
Maxar’s Weather Desk said its latest forecast for the 11-15 day period, from Nov. 16-20, carried over similar themes from the previous outlook but with additional cooling in the eastern half of the country.
“This region is under below normal coverage for the entirety of the period, while aboves remain limited to the West,” Maxar said. “There is uncertainty in how much cold air will be available during this time, with the risk being that persistent ridging over the eastern Pacific/Alaska will provide a polar connection and more significant cold air.”
The forecaster also noted “additional cold changes” for the six to 10 day forecast, from Monday through Nov. 15, based on a cold front tracking through the South and East more quickly early on in the period.
“The surface high left in its wake has Arctic origins and supplies a round of strong below normal temperatures into the Eastern Half,” Maxar said. “This includes readings breaking daily records in some areas, including in Chicago, where early next week has temperatures only in the 10s and 20s.”
Coming off recent weather-driven gains, EBW Analytics Group analysts questioned whether the natural gas rally could be nearing its peak.
“It remains to be seen...whether the December contract can break through or even seriously test resistance at $2.90-2.94,” the EBW analysts said. “Despite a second straight huge gain in demand” in Tuesday’s forecasts, “December peaked intraday at $2.905 and ended the day well below that marker.”
Also potentially applying downward pressure on prices, recent liquefied natural gas feed gas volumes have fallen off from peak levels, and Henry Hub cash prices lag behind the front month, EBW said.
“With brutally cold weather projected early next week, a further test of resistance is likely” as the expected heating demand pushes up cash prices, the analysts said. “By the time the frigid weather arrives, though, more seasonal temperatures are likely to be in sight, potentially capping the upside price risk.”
December crude oil futures were down 25 cents to $56.98/bbl shortly after 8:40 a.m. ET, while December RBOB gasoline was trading about 1.3 cents lower at $1.6615/gal.