After surging in the previous session, natural gas futures pulled back a few cents in early trading Wednesday as the latest forecasts failed to extend colder trends. At around 8:30 a.m. ET, the March Nymex contract was off 2.3 cents to $1.958/MMBtu.
The recent colder momentum in the weather models appeared to have stalled as of early Wednesday, with the American dataset trending warmer compared to the prior day’s outlook and the European model mostly unchanged, according to Bespoke Weather Services.
“As a result, our official forecast shows very little change this morning,” the forecaster said. “The first wave of cold peaks tomorrow, with the next cold push peaking around the end of next week. While the 15-day forecast as a whole is colder than normal, the durability of the cold pattern is still somewhat questionable given an upper level pattern in the higher latitudes that is just marginal in terms of favorability for colder intrusions into the United States.
“With this in mind, it is possible that the models are a little too cold in the 11-15 day, or that the pattern tries to warm up after the first week of March.”
In its updated forecast, Maxar’s Weather Desk projected cooling in the eastern half of the Lower 48 during the period starting Monday and extending through Feb. 28.
“Much below normal temperatures are associated first in the Rockies/Plains around mid-period and expanding south and eastward late,” the forecaster said. “There remain timing differences in the arrival of colder air, with the European model being faster than its American counterpart. This precludes higher confidence, which remains around moderate levels.”
Further out in the 11-15 day window, from Feb. 29 through March 4, Maxar noted “mostly detailed” changes to its updated outlook, including a colder leaning forecast for the East Coast early in the period and warmer trends in the Midwest.
“The coldest anomalies are in the form of much belows early along the East Coast, where temperatures moderate closer to normal in the mid to late period. Below normal temperatures are in the Rockies for the entirety of the period.”
Coming off colder forecast trends over the weekend that added over 50 Bcf to demand expectations, analysts at EBW Analytics Group said they expected prices to “probe higher again” later Wednesday. The March contract settled near its intraday high Tuesday, which is “often a bullish indicator,” they said.
“As the week progresses, it is possible that the March contract will challenge resistance at $2.02-2.07. At least for now, the market appears to be reacting in a restrained manner, suggesting that any remaining upside price potential is limited,” according to the EBW analysts. “There are hints, though, of a fourth cold shot developing during days 16-20, allowing futures to post additional gains.”
March crude oil futures were up 84 cents to $52.89/bbl shortly after 8:30 a.m. ET, while March RBOB gasoline was trading about 1.8 cents higher at $1.6332/gal.