With forecasts over the weekend pointing to mild conditions stretching into the middle part of June, natural gas futures continued to grind lower early Monday. At around 8:30 a.m. ET, the Nymex July contract was off 1.6 cents to $2.438/MMBtu.
Over the weekend, weather models took on a “decisively cooler look overall for the middle third of June,” according to Bespoke Weather Services. The firm pointed to American and European guidance showing a “deeper trough” into the eastern half of the Lower 48 and a “warm upper level ridge” in the western United States.
“This is very typical of what one would expect in an El Nino pattern, and while we still are not able to say with certainty that El Nino is here to stay, it is definitely still showing itself in the projected pattern for now,” Bespoke said. “There is still a little warmth here in the current week,” enough to push national cooling degree day totals slightly above normal “before heading into the solidly cooler pattern as we move into next week.
“Week 3 carries lower confidence, but from what we can see of the start of that week, the pattern still does not look promising for bringing any notable heat back into the eastern half of the country.”
The latest six- to 10-day forecast from Radiant Solutions Monday showed near normal conditions for the eastern Lower 48.
The pattern features a “nearer term tropical disturbance in the western Gulf of Mexico, which will interact with an upper low for a period of unsettled conditions in the South,” Radiant said. “This limits the risk for more significant warmth in the region and to its north, where easterly flow into the Mid-Atlantic can be expected through at least mid-period.”
As for the 11-15 day period, the forecaster’s updated outlook trended cooler in the central part of the Lower 48 compared to Friday’s expectations.
The upcoming pattern “includes a coverage of below normal temperatures in the Midwest and above normal readings along the West Coast,” Radiant said. “The forecast remains on the warmer side of the models, which may be cool biased in the wake of high soil moisture spanning a large part of the U.S.”
Prices took a beating late last week, with the front month on Friday dropping to some of the lowest levels seen since June 2016. Natural gas is likely to remain under downward pressure this week, according to EBW Analytics Group CEO Andy Weissman.
The main catalysts for last week’s sell-off were forecasts advertising widespread mild weather well into June and a large bearish miss in the latest Energy Information Administration (EIA) storage report, he said.
“Our model indicates that this reaction was fully justified,” Weissman said. “Absent sustained very hot weather over much of the country, we expect the storage deficit versus the five-year average to continue to shrink all month long and the surplus versus last year to continue to build.
“After last week’s steep losses it would not be surprising if gas prices rebound modestly early in the week. This week’s reported injection, however, could once again surprise the market, potentially driving prices to new lows by the end of the week.”
July crude oil futures were up 85 cents to $54.35/bbl as of 8:30 a.m. ET, while July RBOB gasoline was up fractionally to $1.7796/gal.
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