Coming off of a quiet session Thursday, most traders were shocked Friday when natural gas futures pushed higher in afternoon trading to close at $7.899, up 17.3 cents on the day, but 3.9 cents lower than the previous week's close.
Friday's low of $7.655 triggered a round of buying, which pushed June natural gas to the day's high of $7.960. Those watching the market closely continue to find that the price lows are getting higher and higher.
"We had technical buying and fund buying Friday afternoon. Despite getting a large injection in the ground, we ended up finishing the week on a strong note," said Ed Kennedy, a broker with Commercial Brokerage Corp. in Miami. "It also seems like the end-users are coming in at progressively higher price levels. It was $7.40 earlier in the week, then $7.50 and on Friday it was $7.60. We are not going to put a $6 handle on this thing anytime soon.
"This puppy is coiling for a move to the upside that is going to be a doozy. When does it go? I don't have that crystal ball," Kennedy added. "I feel very strongly that when futures shoot higher it will be on a weather-related event. I started hounding the end-users this week, telling them that they were running out of time to get their options on and lock in their storage injection prices. We have built a base that goes back to January 2006. When this thing takes off, it is not going to stop. After it goes, the short-term will likely see futures hit near $9.050. Once that level is violated, $15 is very doable."
Despite the bullish attitude of some, followers of market cycles view the market as precarious from the standpoint of the bulls. Market advances just don't seem to have the stamina to develop any meaningful uptrend.
Adding to the knock against the bullish case, near-term weather is not expected to be helpful. A touch of heat over the weekend is expected to retreat to seasonal norms on Monday. AccuWeather reported Boston's high of 74 degrees Friday should drop to 64 by Monday. The average high in Boston is 65. Philadelphia's 83 degree Friday was expected to slide back down to 72 on Monday. The typical high this time of year is 71 in Philadelphia.
Longer term the national weather outlook is somewhat complex. AccuWeather in its six- to 10-day outlook shows major energy markets in the East and Midwest normal. East of a broad arc extending from northern Wisconsin to central Kentucky to New Orleans is expected to be normal, but west of that arc to California the remainder of the country is forecast to experience above-normal temperatures. New England is forecast to be below normal, and the Pacific Northwest normal.
Over in the petroleum ring, crude futures maintained its recent trading level a couple of dollars north of $60/bbl. On Friday, June crude gained 56 cents to close out the week at $62.37/bbl.
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