With technical factors guiding recent price movements, and with the market awaiting government storage data that could offer clues of Covid-19’s impact on demand, natural gas futures were steady early Wednesday. The May Nymex contract was trading about 1.8 cents higher at $1.658/MMBtu at around 8:45 a.m. ET.
Recent price action, including a failure to break through resistance around $1.720-1.730 in Tuesday’s session, indicates natural gas trading has been technically driven, according to EBW Analytics Group analysts.
“After resistance held, the front month headed lower steadily all day, settling just four tics aboves its low for the day,” the EBW analysts said. “This pattern suggests that recent trading has been technically driven, with the April contract testing the low end of its range Monday morning, testing the high end Tuesday morning and then going back down.”
This could transition to “muted” trading for Wednesday as the market looks ahead to this week’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) storage report, expected to “provide the first solid indication of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on U.S. demand for natural gas. We expect tomorrow’s report to indicate that demand contracted by 2 Bcf/d or more during the week ending March 27 -- with declines likely to accelerate in the coming weeks.”
Energy Aspects issued a preliminary estimate for a 32 Bcf withdrawal for Thursday’s EIA report. The firm modeled a 0.3 Bcf/d week/week decline in production, with power demand also expected to “edge down” during the period on “declines in total U.S. load.”
However, natural gas should see its share of total power burns increase “as coal generation slumps” and as low cash prices “add upside to gas generation,” Energy Aspects said. “Despite intraweek choppiness, the trend of exports to Mexico is positive,” with the recent week “seeing another 0.1 Bcf/d in growth. Quicker flows peaked at 5.8 Bcf/d” this past Wednesday, “supported by 2.1 Bcf/d on NET Mexico, indicating the pipe continues to hold at levels above its pre-Sur de Texas Tuxpan baseline.”
As for the overnight weather data, Bespoke Weather Services observed colder changes from the models focused between days nine and 15 of the outlook period.
“More upper level ridging is now projected to move over Alaska, helping to push colder air into the central U.S., though continuing to avoid the East for the most part,” Bespoke said. “We did adjust our forecast in the colder direction, but we did not move as much as the models. The reason is lack of confidence given the repeated failure of cold model projections to become reality...What we do feel more confident in saying is that if we are to get a colder surge, the most likely regions impacted would be from the Upper Midwest back into the West.”
May crude oil futures were off 23 cents to $20.25/bbl at around 8:45 a.m. ET, while May RBOB gasoline was down about 5.9 cents to about 53.4 cents/gal.