Natural gas futures were steady early Wednesday as traders appeared to be keeping their powder dry ahead of an early-arriving holiday week storage report. The January Nymex contract was trading close to even at $2.534/MMBtu shortly after 8:40 a.m. ET.
The latest guidance heading into Wednesday’s trading extended the warmer trends that began to show up in models Sunday, according to Bespoke Weather Services. Runs from both the American and European models lowered demand expectations compared to 24 hours earlier.
“Despite even more warming, the endings of the runs showed a tendency toward more North Atlantic Oscillation blocking, which is somewhat boosting concerns that the pattern can go back colder beyond Day 15,” Bespoke said. “We do not believe this to be the case yet, and frankly we’ve seen this for about a week and a half now, where models warm the nearer term, then show hints of cold at the end.”
Potentially leading to “erratic price action” in Wednesday’s session, traders will have to factor in the latest storage data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), and given the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday the market is likely to see “a lower liquidity period until Monday,” according to Bespoke.
Estimates for this week’s EIA report, scheduled for noon ET Wednesday because of Thanksgiving, have been pointing to a notably smaller withdrawal compared to last week’s 94 Bcf pull.
A Bloomberg survey showed a median estimate for a 27 Bcf withdrawal for the week ending Nov. 22, with an expected withdrawal range of 19 Bcf to 35 Bcf. A Reuters survey showed a consensus for a 28 Bcf withdrawal, with a range of minus 16 Bcf to minus 42 Bcf.
Intercontinental Exchange EIA Financial Weekly Index futures settled Tuesday at minus 27 Bcf. NGI’s model predicted a withdrawal of 29 Bcf.
A withdrawal in line with expectations would be bearish versus the five-year average of minus 57 Bcf. Last year, EIA recorded a 70 Bcf pull for the period.
Things appear to be quieting down as market participants look ahead to a long Thanksgiving holiday weekend, according to Genscape Inc. senior natural gas analyst Rick Margolin.
“Forecasts continue to show slightly colder-than-normal temperatures for most of the country over the next 14 days, but the forecasts are also trending ever-so-slightly milder. As a result, our forecast shows a few days early next week of 100 Bcf/d-plus demand, but a far cry from levels hit during the cold snap from a few weeks back,” Margolin said. “Meanwhile, production levels are running steady at 94 Bcf/d-plus.”
January crude oil futures were up 8 cents to $58.49/bbl shortly after 8:40 a.m. ET, while December RBOB gasoline was off fractionally to $1.6982/gal.