Further cold trends overnight, albeit with significant disagreement among the major weather models, had natural gas futures trading higher early Thursday. Hanging onto gains picked up Wednesday afternoon, the December Nymex contract was trading 7.4 cents higher at $2.674/MMBtu shortly after 8:40 a.m. ET.
Bespoke Weather Services described “chaos” from the latest weather outlook heading into Thursday’s trading, with the major models moving further apart overnight to leave a significant divergence in projected outcomes over the 15-day window.
Models “did nothing to alleviate any uncertainty as to what happens in the balance of November,” Bespoke said. “In fact, they simply grew much farther apart,” with the American model continuing to trend colder and the European model coming in warmer than its previous run on Wednesday.
As of early Thursday, the American model advertised a full 30 gas-weighted degree days more than its European counterpart, Bespoke said, calling it “an astounding difference.”
“Most often, when models are this far apart, the answer indeed lies somewhere in the middle,” the forecaster said.
NatGasWeather similarly highlighted the divergence between the major weather models, noting that the mixed outlook could lead to volatility in Thursday’s trading.
“It’s up to the natural gas markets to decide which model they agree with more. Or they can wait for today’s midday data hoping for better clarification,” NatGasWeather said.
There are “big differences” between the models in the Nov. 22-26 period, when the American model “favors a strong push of Canadian air into the Midwest and Northeast. However, the European model didn’t show nearly as much cold air into the United States this run,” losing all of the demand it added to the outlook on Wednesday, the forecaster said.
Meanwhile, this week’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) storage report, scheduled for release at 10:30 a.m. ET, could show the season’s first withdrawal or an injection in the single digits for the week ended Nov. 8, according to estimates. Survey responses as of Wednesday showed expectations clustering around a range between minus 9 Bcf and plus 9 Bcf.
A Bloomberg survey showed a median prediction for a 2 Bcf withdrawal, while a Wall Street Journal survey pointed to a 1 Bcf withdrawal. According to a Reuters survey, EIA will report no net change to stocks. NGI’s model predicted a 4 Bcf injection.
“It was colder than normal over most of the country as weather systems with cooling tracked through,” NatGasWeather said of this week’s report period. “Warmer exceptions were across the West and Florida. Our algorithm is to the bullish side at minus 2 Bcf to minus 4 Bcf.”
December crude oil futures were trading 36 cents higher at $57.48/bbl shortly after 8:40 a.m. ET, while December RBOB gasoline was trading fractionally higher at $1.6424/gal.