Natural gas futures were trading sharply lower early Monday as forecasts over the weekend showed a pattern that would be much less conducive to December cold. The January Nymex contract was trading 11.9 cents lower at $2.215/MMBtu shortly before 8:30 a.m. ET.
Weekend runs from both the American and European models advertised “a big move warmer,” shedding around 15-20 gas-weighted degree days from the 15-day outlook, according to Bespoke Weather Services.
“The reason lies mostly in the pattern across the Pacific, which is hostile toward getting cold air to drop into the U.S.,” Bespoke said. “We had favored some warmer risks because of this expectation, as the orientation of tropical forcing has not looked favorable for cold, but the magnitude of the weekend change was more than expected.
“In addition to the warmer changes over the next 15 days, the look of the pattern implies warm into the 16-20 day as well. We do still suspect cold risks can return down the road, but it appears this will have to wait until at least the very end of December, if not into the turn of the new year.”
Maxar’s Weather Desk similarly noted a “small warm change” in its forecast for Saturday through Dec. 18, focused in the East through the middle of this period.
“The large scale pattern theme is variability, with aboves and much aboves being common in the South and East in the early half giving way to colder themes late,” Maxar said.
The forecaster also highlighted warmer trends further out in the Dec. 19-23 time frame.
“All models project a trough along the west coast of North America, which is typically unsupportive of sustainable cold across the Central or Eastern U.S. given the primary flow out of the Pacific,” Maxar said. “Rather, a variable outcome that leans warm for the Midwest and South is favored.”
With forecasts coming out of the weekend shifting to a milder outlook for December temperatures, natural gas prices are likely to see downward pressure this holiday season, according to EBW Analytics Group.
“This early in the winter season, support for the January contract may not crack immediately,” EBW analysts said. “A brief cold shot is still expected mid-week and producers could start to throttle back wells as prices fall, weakening production.
“With December now on a much warmer path, however, and cash prices likely to weaken later this month due to holidays, significant further losses are likely between now and Christmas.”
January crude oil futures were down 56 cents to $58.64/bbl a little before 8:30 a.m. ET, while January RBOB gasoline was down about 1.9 cents to $1.6287/gal.