With the natural gas market continuing to weigh competing bearish and bullish factors, including production declines and near-term demand weakness, futures were trading several cents higher early Wednesday. The June Nymex contract was up 5.2 cents to $1.882/MMBtu at around 8:45 a.m. ET.
The near-term direction of natural gas prices remains uncertain as “conflicting market drivers” pressure prices, according to EBW Analytics Group analysts.
“On the bullish side, pipeline scrape reports indicate that in the first two days of trading this week, natural gas production declined just under 2 Bcf/d...At the same time, however, there is no shortage of bearish drivers,” the EBW analysts said. “Weather-driven demand for natural gas will be near its low point for the year over the next two weeks. The Memorial Day holiday will push demand even lower this weekend.”
Also potentially weighing on prices, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) could report “three straight huge builds” in the weeks ahead, and “another wave” of cancelations could soon further depress liquefied natural gas export demand.
“Natural gas prices could continue to swing back and forth today,” according to EBW. “After tomorrow’s storage report, though, prices are likely to decline heading into the three-day holiday weekend.”
Looking ahead to Thursday’s EIA storage report, Energy Aspects issued a preliminary estimate for a 94 Bcf injection for the week ending May 15.
The firm said its estimated injection dropped below triple-digit territory from “an estimated 0.5 Bcf/d week/week decline in production and a projected 1.5 Bcf/d increase in demand, driven by increased heating needs week/week.”
Last year EIA recorded a 101 Bcf build for the similar week, and the five-year average is an injection of 87 Bcf.
As for the weather outlook, Bespoke Weather Services said its latest forecast as of early Wednesday was mostly unchanged day/day.
The pattern continues to show “broad coverage of above normal temperatures taking hold for a good portion of the nation over the next couple of weeks, extending into the early part of June,” Bespoke said. “For now, however, this does not boost demand significantly, given that the South is the one region that does not yet participate in anomalous warmth, and normal temperatures in parts of the north have not climbed enough yet so that the warmth results in a material addition” of cooling degree days.
July crude oil futures were up 80 cents to $32.76/bbl at around 8:45 a.m. ET, while June RBOB gasoline was up about 1.8 cents to $1.0633/gal.