October natural gas futures were trading about 1.1 cents higher Thursday morning at around $2.919/MMBtu, hanging onto recent gains as the market turns its attention to the upcoming release of government storage data.
Predictions for the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) 10:30 a.m. ET weekly storage report have been pointing to a build slightly above the five-year average. A Reuters survey of traders and analysts on average showed respondents expecting EIA to report an 84 Bcf build for the week ending Sept. 14, with a range of 76-94 Bcf. A Bloomberg survey produced a median 81 Bcf injection, with a range of 70-94 Bcf.
Last year, EIA recorded a 96 Bcf injection for the period, while the five-year average is a build of 76 Bcf.
IAF Advisors analyst Kyle Cooper called for an 80 Bcf build, while Bespoke Weather Services predicted an 83 Bcf injection. Intercontinental Exchange EIA weekly financial index futures settled Wednesday at a build of 85 Bcf.
This week’s storage report period featured hotter than normal temperatures “over the Southeast and from the Southwest across the Rockies and Plains,” NatGasWeather said. “It was cooler than normal across the Northwest” as well as “from Texas to the southern Great Plains and Northeast. Our algorithm sees it toward the bearish side with a build of 87-88 Bcf.”
Meanwhile, overnight data showed further cool trends for the Sept. 27-Oct. 2 period, with a “stronger cold shot push across the Canadian border and into the northern and central U.S.,” the firm said. However, it noted that the Global Forecast System (GFS) “model continues to show much stronger demand than the important European model,” which has been “considerably less impressive.”
NatGasWeather said upcoming data could prove important, as it expects one of the models to concede to the other, with either the GFS to backing off or the European trending colder.
After EIA’s report it “will be of interest to see how prices react considering deficits should remain above 550 Bcf through much, if not all, of October,” the firm said. Which model wins between the European and GFS models could determine the direction of prices later in the day, it said.
Wednesday’s 2.5 cent decline in the front month — modest compared to gains earlier in the week — suggested traders were waiting for the upcoming storage data before making their next move, according to EBW Analytics Group CEO Andy Weissman.
“The ability of the October contract to hold nearly all of its gains after its startling run-up Monday and Tuesday indicates that this week’s rebound cannot be dismissed as an anomaly. Instead, if the 15-day forecast remains bullish, further gains are possible,” Weissman said.
“During the remainder of this week, however, it is not clear that there will be any catalyst that will move the market significantly in either direction.” Unless EIA reports an injection “well outside” of consensus around 80-83 Bcf, “it is likely to be shrugged off by the market.”
At 8:35 a.m. ET, October crude oil futures were trading about 20 cents lower at around $70.92, while October RBOB gasoline futures were down fractionally to around $2.0142/gal.
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