Natural gas futures were trading a few cents higher early Friday as overnight guidance teased the possibility of another round of cold temperatures arriving before Thanksgiving. The December Nymex contract was up 2.6 cents to $2.798/MMBtu shortly after 8:30 a.m. ET.
The latest 15-day outlook from Bespoke Weather Services showed a net loss of demand based on the overnight guidance. The forecaster attributed the early price gains to a colder shift at the “very end” of the European ensemble forecast that hints at cold returning in the 16-20 day time frame.
“This was not seen in other models, but the market is being really cautious” and viewing the end of the European ensemble outlook as “potentially threatening despite the net lower forecast demand today,” Bespoke said. “That period heading toward Thanksgiving does carry some uncertainty, but regardless of whether or not there is another colder push there,” the forecaster favors milder conditions returning late this month into early December.
“Today’s midday runs will be judged” by whether or not they confirm the colder shift at the end of European forecast. “We have a slight lean toward rejection.”
Meanwhile, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported a 34 Bcf weekly injection into U.S. natural gas stocks Thursday, about 10 Bcf below consensus and lower than both the 63 Bcf year-ago injection and the 57 Bcf five-year average.
Total Lower 48 working gas in underground storage stood at 3,729 Bcf as of Nov. 1, 530 Bcf (16.6%) above year-ago stocks and 29 Bcf (0.8%) higher than the five-year average, according to EIA.
In terms of balances, “degree days continue to do yeoman’s work, coming in 29% above normal” for the most recent report week and averaging 19% above normal over the past five weeks, according to analysts at Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co. (TPH).
“On a weather-adjusted basis, the injection implies a 1 Bcf/d oversupplied market, a stark improvement from recent weeks in the 3-4 Bcf/d oversupply range, but we expect things to loosen next week” on an uptick in supply from domestic production and Canadian imports, along with a dropoff in liquefied natural gas feed gas demand, the TPH team said.
Even with early-season cold, the market may have to wait to see its first weekly withdrawal, with TPH’s estimates suggesting a 10 Bcf build for next week’s EIA report.
“On a regional basis, the Pacific and Mountain regions posted draws last week, and storage in these regions sits at 73% and 79% of capacity, respectively,” the TPH analysts said. “On the other hand, East storage added another 19 Bcf and is at 95% of capacity, the highest since 2012.”
December crude oil futures were trading 85 cents lower at $56.30/bbl shortly after 8:30 a.m. ET, while December RBOB gasoline was off about 2.0 cents to $1.6151/gal.