Mild temperatures in the near-term and lingering balance concerns following a surprisingly bearish government inventory report last week helped send natural gas futures several cents lower in early trading Monday. The April Nymex contract was down 5.6 cents to $2.645/MMBtu at around 8:45 a.m. ET.
The April contract closed out last week on a down note from a combination of expectations for very mild temperatures in the Lower 48 this week and an “extremely bearish” miss from the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) weekly storage report, according to analysts at EBW Analytics Group.
“Near-term signals are bearish,” the EBW analysts said. “This week has continued to trend warmer. This could temporarily bring withdrawals to a halt, putting downward pressure on cash prices and futures.
“A second straight bearish storage report is also possible, since last week’s huge storage miss suggests large amounts of petrochemical and refining capacity may have still been offline last week, reducing demand for natural gas,” the analysts added.
Bespoke Weather Services in its latest forecast Monday similarly observed warmer changes to the current week compared to previous expectations. However, the firm said its 15-day forecast trended cooler overall since Friday, with chillier adjustments focused on next week.
The warmth for the current week “skews the 15-day period as a whole warmer than normal, despite the cooler look next week,” Bespoke said. “Variability is the rule, as outside of this week we simply do not have a signal that suggests either cool or warm will be favored.” For the key natural gas demand regions “we see a lot of back-and-forth once clear of this week’s warmth.”
Questions surrounding last week’s bearish EIA report continue to linger, according to the firm.
“It is not clear how much we can read into the implied supply/demand balance from the number,” Bespoke said. “If such a balance is carried forward, we easily continue to move lower in terms of price, even from here in the mid $2.60s. If it turns out to be a one-off, prices can stabilize.”
Meanwhile, liquefied natural gas (LNG) feed gas volumes to the Corpus Christi terminal dropped over the weekend ahead of a maintenance event, according to analysts at Wood Mackenzie.
The event, starting Monday, limits deliveries to the terminal to 2,142,000 MMBtu until Tuesday afternoon, Wood Mackenzie analyst Dan Spangler said in a note to clients.
“Nominations last Thursday were 2,448,892 MMBtu but dropped to around 1,700,000 MMBtu over the weekend and are similar for today’s gas day,” Spangler said. “The pipeline will begin a separate maintenance event” Tuesday through Friday “that will limit flows through the Sinton compressor station to 2,295,000 MMBtu/d.”
April crude oil futures were off 14 cents to $65.95/bbl at around 8:45 a.m. ET, while April RBOB gasoline was down fractionally to $2.0548/gal.
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