Coming off a range-bound trading session, and with the latest weather outlook offering little to excite bulls, natural gas futures hovered close to even early Wednesday. The June Nymex contract was off 1.3 cents to $2.954/MMBtu at around 8:45 a.m. ET.
Based on the latest forecast data Bespoke Weather Services made a “marginal increase” to its gas-weighted degree day projections for the next 15 days.
This increase is a result of higher projected heating degree days (HDD) “in the Midwest to Northeast this weekend into the start of next week,” Bespoke said. “We remain skeptical that these added HDD will actually result in a notable boost in natural gas demand, as HDD in May are most often marginal enough so that, while technically existing, do not move the demand needle significantly.”
The firm said it still expects temperatures to warm up toward the middle of the month. However, “models have backed off the projected level of warming over the last three days, so we still are not seeing a material boost to early season” cooling degree days as of Wednesday’s forecast.
From a technical standpoint, resistance at the $3.000 level held for the June contract in Tuesday’s session, with prices finding support at $2.932, analysts at EBW Analytics Group noted.
“The June contract’s ability to hold its ground, even though weather-driven demand is near its lowest point of the year, is impressive,” the EBW analysts said. “The natural gas futures market is trading on a much different basis now than it did just two weeks ago, with the front-month contract trading based upon the rest of the curve, rather than on cash demand.”
Still, absent more weather-driven demand in the 15-day forecast period, the June contract could “struggle to move much higher,” according to EBW. “Further, after last week’s bearish storage report, the June contract may be more likely to sell off modestly ahead of this week’s report than to move higher.”
For Thursday’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) storage report, a Bloomberg survey as of early Wednesday showed a median estimate for a 66 Bcf injection for the week ended April 30. That was based on 10 estimates ranging from 49 Bcf to 76 Bcf.
Bespoke said it’s predicting a 71 Bcf build.
“In our storage model, this remains rather strong in terms of supply/demand balances, though we do have some larger injections on the way, and do still believe that the large price rise over the last few weeks will induce some loosening,” Bespoke said. “The market likely needs a new bullish catalyst to break through the $3.000 level, be it from a bullish miss in tomorrow’s report, or cash prices that continue to gain strength.”
June crude oil futures were up 87 cents to $66.56/bbl at around 8:45 a.m. ET, while June RBOB gasoline was up about 2.9 cents to $2.1801/gal.
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