Forecasts advertising early season cooling demand in the Southeast weren’t enough to impress natural gas futures traders early Monday. The June Nymex contract was off 1.8 cents to $2.562/MMBtu as of 8:30 a.m. ET.
Forecast changes over the weekend were modest, according to Bespoke Weather Services, which noted a small increase in gas-weighted degree day expectations but with the pattern looking “less favorable for above normal demand” toward the middle of May.
“We still some really strong early-season heat across the South this week, with numerous 86-92 degree highs still expected in the Southeast, which is near record levels in some locations for this time of year,” Bespoke said.
Meanwhile, in the northern tier of the country, a cold shot working its way through the region should drive elevated heating demand this week, according to the forecaster. After this week, demand levels should return to near normal, with some slightly elevated cooling degree day (CDD) levels but below normal heating degree days (HDD).
The weekend burns “weren’t as strong as we expected to see,” but liquefied natural gas exports climbed “back toward 5.5 Bcf/d, and we have some impressive early-season southern heat ahead of us this week,” Bespoke said. “All of these things may allow for supportive cash prices, and it may be that burns will respond better to the boost in CDDs as opposed to HDDs at this point in the season.”
Compared to Friday’s expectations, Radiant Solutions noted warm changes in its latest six- to 10-day outlook Monday focused in the eastern half of the Lower 48.
“These changes are a result of an active and unsettled pattern, limiting any cool response that may otherwise be associated with high pressure making its way from the Great Lakes toward the East in the early half,” the forecaster said. “Above normal temperatures are common for the period in the South, while the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast are under lower confidence on uncertainty associated with backdoor cooling.”
In the 11-15 day outlook, Radiant highlighted cooler trends from the West to the Plains and warmer trends in the South and East.
“These changes are a result of model trends in the northern Pacific holding a ridge over the Gulf of Alaska for longer than previously expected,” the forecaster said. “This feature will establish a pathway for unseasonably cool air into the Northern Plains while supporting above normal temperatures in the Pacific Northwest. The ridge over the Southeast in the preceding periods looks to remain through this time frame, keeping above normal temperatures here and at times in the Mid-Atlantic.”
Prior to its expiration last week, the May futures contract had “made a serious run” at breaking below support in the mid-$2.40s, EBW Analytics Group CEO Andy Weissman noted.
“Going forward, we expect two conflicting sets of forces to be at work,” he said. “Last week’s ability to maintain support in the upper $2.40s is likely to be seen as establishing a floor, discouraging aggressive shorting” and possibly encouraging “at least some new longs.
“At the same time, cool weather has already peaked. Demand is likely to decline significantly over the next few days and then remain depressed for several weeks — which, combined with record May injections, should keep gas prices low.”
June crude oil was trading 15 cents lower at $63.15/bbl shortly after 8:30 a.m. ET, while May RBOB gasoline was trading about 1.4 cents lower at $2.0865/gal.
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