A “unanimous” move in the warmer direction from the major weather models over the weekend had natural gas futures trading sharply lower early Monday. The March Nymex contract was down 7.7 cents to $1.781/MMBtu as of 8:30 a.m. ET.
Heading into Monday’s trading, both the American and European datasets showed demand losses of anywhere from 15 to just over 30 gas-weighted degree days compared to previous expectations, according to Bespoke Weather Services.
“Weekend weather models were unanimous in showing larger warmer changes since we left off on Friday afternoon,” Bespoke said. “...There are a couple of colder days coming at the end of this week, but then the pattern goes back very warm again as both the Arctic oscillation and the East Pacific oscillation stay positive into the latter part of this month.
“This cuts off the supply of colder air into the United States, keeping it bottled up in the polar regions. As a result, it increases the risk that we see another top 10 warm month here in February, cementing this meteorological winter as one of the warmest in our dataset.”
A cold shot expected to arrive just before Valentine’s Day actually trended colder over the weekend, increasing the expected gas-weighted heating demand for days eight through 10 of the outlook period, according to EBW Analytics Group analysts. This could bring the “coldest days this winter” to the Chicago area, they said.
“Rather than extending six days, however, the cold shot has been reduced to just two to three days, after which the forecast trends much warmer” through the back half of February, the EBW analysts said. “Unless the models reverse abruptly, this shift ends the chance for a rebound in February and opens the door to significant further price declines.”
From a technical standpoint, as of early Monday the March contract had broken below what ICAP Technical Analysis pegged as a key support area at $1.804.
In a recent note to clients, ICAP analyst Brian LaRose said the firm still viewed $1.730, $1.679-1.677 and $1.611 as the “immediate steps to the downside” should bulls fail to hold support at $1.804.
March crude oil futures were trading 11 cents lower at $50.21/bbl at around 8:30 a.m. ET, while March RBOB gasoline was off fractionally to $1.5220/gal.