Natural gas futures continued to advance early Thursday as traders awaited the latest round of government inventory data, expected to reveal a lighter-than-average weekly injection that could offer signs of ongoing tightness in the market. 

NGI Morning Natural Gas Price & Markets Coverage

The July Nymex contract was up 28.9 cents to $8.985/MMBtu at around 8:50 a.m. ET.

Major surveys ahead of the latest Energy Information Administration (EIA) storage report, scheduled for 10:30 a.m. ET, have been pointing to a build in the mid-80s Bcf. The print, which covers net changes to U.S. natural gas stocks during the week ended May 27, is likely to be scrutinized for signs of continued supply/demand tightness following last week’s bullish surprise.

A Wall Street Journal poll produced estimates ranging from 73 Bcf to 92 Bcf, with an average build of 84 Bcf. A Bloomberg survey had a tighter range of projections and landed at a median injection of 86 Bcf. Reuters polled 14 analysts, whose estimates ranged from injections of 76 Bcf to 93 Bcf, with a median increase of 87 Bcf.

Last year, 100 Bcf was added into storage during the similar week, while the five-year average injection is also 100 Bcf.

“Today’s EIA storage report will be another important one,” Bespoke Weather Services said in a note to clients early Thursday. The firm said it’s modeling a print of 80 Bcf. This would indicate “very tight supply/demand balances, but there are a few estimates around 90 Bcf for today, which would suggest our data may be too tight. If our data proves correct, the pathway to new highs exists.”

Meanwhile, in terms of the weather outlook, Maxar’s Weather Desk made regionally cooler changes to its updated forecast for the six- to 10-day period, from next Tuesday through June 11. 

The period “features an active storm track from the Central Plains through the Lower Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and Northeast,” the forecaster said. “Today’s changes are cooler along this storm track, which is slightly south-shifted when compared to earlier outlooks. Below normal temperatures are to its north, being mostly steady from the Northern Plains to the Midwest.”

Above-normal temperatures, meanwhile, are expected for the southern Lower 48 during this time frame, according to Maxar.

In terms of weather-driven demand, forecast gas-weighted degree days have remained steady in recent days, according to Bespoke.

Cooling in the Midwest over the next week to 10 days “is only able to bring national demand down to normal levels,” Bespoke said. “The cooling is the result of a shift in tropical forcing…We suspect that the forcing shifts again around the middle of the month and allows the pattern to move more in the hotter direction.”

The firm said it’s predicting above-normal gas-weighted degree days nationally starting around June 13.