A vast majority of natural gas cash averages moved higher on Tuesday for Wednesday delivery despite moderating temperatures, a relatively quiet tropical weather picture and a lack of support from the screen’s prior-day action. Even western points, which widely recorded drops on Monday for Tuesday delivery, got in on the upticks on Tuesday.
In a repeat of Monday, almost all of the gains across the country were by less than a dime, with fewer than a handful of averages adding more. Some of the outliers were Transco Zone 5 (WGL) in the East, which added 11.68 cents, and FGT Zone 3 in the South, which added 13.54 cents, according to IntercontinentalExchange data.
Despite what appeared to be a load of bearish fundamentals, perhaps traders were eyeing the futures market’s actions on Tuesday and the potential for early heating demand in various regions of the country.
October natural gas futures on Tuesday ventured north of the psychological $4 barrier once again and ultimately settled the regular session at $3.980, up 9.5 cents from Monday’s finish.
“We saw a little bit of a run-up Tuesday,” said a Texas-based marketer. “Certainly temperatures are a little bit stronger everywhere and Nymex moved higher in the middle of our trading. It got above $4 early in the morning, so cash prices tend to follow it on the hub at least. We didn’t see a big run-up, but it was good enough.”
Turning attention toward winter, the marketer said gas supplies are abundant, but there will be roadblocks. “I think there is plenty of gas in some areas, but the question is: will it be able to get to the markets that need it? There are certain places where there is a lot of gas that is fairly constrained. It’s a matter of whether it will flow or not, definitely something to keep our eye on.”
Citi Futures Perspective analyst Tim Evans said the markets could very well be eyeing the onset of winter.
“The natural gas [futures market] has surged back above the $4 mark on what looks, primarily, as a reaction to the price having survived a recent series of downside tests,” Evans said Tuesday. “An approaching cold front that might generate a little heating demand in parts of the Midwest might also be supporting the cash market, although we continue to anticipate above average storage injections over the balance of the month. We do see potential for prices to move higher though, but more based on the idea that seasonal demand will be climbing sharply in coming months, rather than as a bet on the current weather.”
More near term, the weather picture is not likely to give prices either support or downward pressure. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s six- to 10-day forecast covering Sept. 19-23, the western half of the country, the north central portion and New England are expected to experience mildly above-normal temperatures while much of the Southeast will see below-normal readings.
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