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Storage, Weather Matching Expected High Production; June Called Flat

June natural gas is expected to open unchanged Wednesday morning at $4.80 as traders balance mildly supportive weather outlooks with anticipated high production. Overnight oil markets were mixed.   

Tim Evans of Citi Futures Perspective sees Tuesday's 11-cent advance as "drawing support from a temperature forecast broadly characterized as limiting the rate of storage injections as well as prospects for Thursday's DOE report." Evans cites expectations of a storage build in the 71 Bcf range, "a supportive figure compared with the larger 82 Bcf build in the prior week. Our model points to the possibility of an even lower 62 Bcf refill, which we read as the potential for a bullish surprise," he said.

"However, the difficulty with banking on either the weather outlook or Thursday's DOE storage report as price supports is that the larger pattern continues to feature above-average storage injections and a declining year-on-five-year storage deficit in the weeks ahead." Evans forecasts that the year-on-five-year deficit will decline to 948 Bcf by May 23, down form its present 984 Bcf shortfall.

Tradition Energy's Eugene McGillian sees market concerns of insufficient storage refill countered by "expectations of record production levels of gas and the next couple weeks of slack demand shoulder season weather...provid[ing] resistance to rising gas prices until the onset of this summer's cooling season. Weather forecasts are expected to fluctuate in the coming weeks with above-normal temperatures expected across the East in the next five-days followed by a shift to cooler to normal temps in the second half of this month," he said in Wednesday morning comments to clients.

Weather forecasters see the West cooling and the Southeast trending warmer. WSI Corp. in its Wednesday morning 11-15 day outlook said the period "has trended cooler over the West and warmer over the southeastern two-thirds when compared to the previous forecast. Forecast confidence is considered near average standards as models show fair large-scale agreement."

WSI sees risk "to the warmer side over portions of the Plains, Midwest and East if a sweeping cold trough is weaker than anticipated. Slight warmer risks are in place over the desert Southwest in through the Southern Plains late in the period under a progressive heat ridge."

According to the firm's figures, early next week shows Philadelphia's high at 84, well above its 73 norm; and Chicago is expected to see a high of 67, just below its 69 seasonal high.

In overnight Globex trading June crude oil rose 58 cents to $100.08/bbl and June RBOB gasoline fell a penny to $2.874/gal.

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