Ending another wild week of trading that had two days of prices moving lower and two days of prices moving higher, November natural gas futures on Friday broke the tie in favor of the bears as the front-month contract closed at $7.358, down 12.3 cents on the day and 27 cents lower than the previous week’s finish.
November crude also had a chaotic week of multiple-dollar swings in both directions, highlighted by the $10.52/bbl decline Monday. On Friday traders gave the contract a rest as the prompt-month contract finished nine pennies lower on the day at $93.88/bbl. Even with the quiet Friday, November crude plummeted $13.01/bbl, or 12%, during the week.
Citi Futures Perspective analyst Tim Evans said the natural gas market moved lower Friday on some follow-through from Thursday’s 24.7-cent drop, which was sparked by the Energy Information Administration reporting that a larger-than-anticipated 87 Bcf was injected into storage for the week ended Sept. 26.
He added that the tropical Atlantic Basin remains relatively quiet, which goes against the Colorado State University hurricane forecast team’s recent prediction for “well above-average” hurricane activity during the month of October (see related story).
“The temperature outlook may also be disappointing to would-be seasonal bulls as the U.S. pattern of temperatures continues to shift day to day, but without really adding to the overall degree day forecasts and the related demand for natural gas,” he said.
Thursday’s reported 87 Bcf injection to storage caught traders by surprise as most expected a build closer to the 73 Bcf revealed in a Bloomberg poll. Some industry experts were warning that natural gas bulls may want to brace themselves for another stout injection as forecasts show little need for any kind of heating requirements and the six- to 10-day forecast projects above-normal temperatures for a vast section of the country.
Traders nonetheless are standing aside. “While we can continue to back up to Monday’s downside price breakout to the lowest levels of this year in suggesting lower price possibilities, we are instead favoring a neutral trading posture given this week’s mixed bag of both bearish and bullish items,” said Jim Ritterbusch of Ritterbusch and Associates. “While a $6 handle still can’t be ruled out, the most likely course for this market through most of this month appears to be further price consolidation within the $7-8 zone.”
For the week ended Oct. 4, the National Weather Service (NWS) forecasts a below-normal tally of heating degree days (HDD) for major energy-consuming regions. New England is expected to receive 44 HDD, or 26 fewer than normal, and New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania are expected to have just 34 HDD, or 21 fewer than normal. The industrialized Midwest states of Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin should have 54 HDD, or four fewer than normal.
Further out in its six- to 10-day forecast covering Oct. 9-Oct. 13, the NWS says temperatures will be above normal for almost the entire eastern half of the country. Almost the entire western half of the united States is expected to exhibit below-normal readings while a thin swath extending from Minnesota down through central Texas is seen as normal.
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