After forecasts, still offering plenty of frigid January temperatures, saw no major changes over the long weekend, natural gas futures traded slightly higher early Tuesday. The February Nymex contract was up 4.2 cents to $4.304/MMBtu at around 8:55 a.m. ET.
Compared to forecasting from prior to the weekend, Bespoke Weather Services said its latest temperature outlook early Tuesday produced “no net change whatsoever,” with the pattern still “biased to the colder side” through the end of the month.
“It appears this January will wind up the coldest January since 2014,” Bespoke said. “Looking ahead, the main question now is whether or not the colder pattern hangs on into February. We have discussed the idea of a more classic La Niña state returning into February, which would shift colder risks out into the West, allowing the East to warm, and there are hints of that now late in the 11 to 15 day model projections.”
Cold temperatures this week are set to deliver 19 Bcf/d of additional physical demand by Friday, according to EBW Analytics Group senior analyst Eli Rubin.
Looking at other key supply and demand factors, estimates showed liquefied natural gas (LNG) feed gas demand topping 13.2 Bcf/d over the weekend before receding by 0.8 Bcf/d early Monday, the analyst said.
“Production freeze-offs remain a key wildcard,” Rubin said. “…With reduced supply, near-record LNG, surging cold weather and the market potentially underestimating coming withdrawals, the front-month natural gas contract may continue to gain near term before fading as upcoming cold eases.”
A recovery in production could put pressure on prices depending on how February forecasts play out, according to Bespoke.
While cold, the weather outlook early Thursday was “lacking the extremes that some models had shown over the last week or two,” Bespoke said. “…Should production come back higher, we could suggest downside risks to prices in the event of any warming into February, but it is unclear when this may occur.”
From a technical standpoint, after February prices held above the 200-day moving average in recent trading, analysts at ICAP Technical Analysis said they would be “watching intently” to see whether bulls “can engineer a rally to start the week.”
Should they manage to do so, “the case for more sideways to higher price action will remain intact,” ICAP analyst Brian LaRose said.
To the downside, should prices break below the $4.070 area, ICAP pegged the next major support target at around $3.850.
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