Natural gas futures recovered a few cents in early trading Wednesday as the latest forecasts showed colder temperatures arriving into the Midwest and East later this month. After sliding 5.5 cents in the previous session, the May Nymex contract was up 2.9 cents to $2.485/MMBtu at around 8:45 a.m. ET.
The updated forecast from Bespoke Weather Services early Wednesday showed only minor changes to the outlook.
“The 15-day period as a whole remains below normal in terms of projected demand” on “very warm” conditions for days one to five of the forecast, Bespoke said. Colder air is expected to arrive next week, “first into the middle of the nation, then spreading into the East and South later next week into the start of the following week.”
This would result in “elevated” heating degree days in the Midwest and East but reduces demand expectations further south in areas such as Texas, where cooling degree days “typically show up in mid to late April,” according to the firm. “We feel the cooling is likely limited in terms of duration and that the pattern may tilt back to the warmer than normal side once we move toward the end of the month.”
Bespoke said its near-term sentiment on the natural gas market was “neutral” heading into Wednesday’s session, with the firm noting some “marginally stronger” power burns on a weather-adjusted basis.
“It is possible that burns continue to gradually strengthen…if prices remain under the $2.50 level,” Bespoke said.
The May natural gas contract retreated Tuesday, failing to build on a “major bullish” shift in forecasts that saw prices move higher in early trading, analysts at EBW Analytics Group noted.
“Yesterday’s losses were partly due to timing,” the EBW analysts said. “The American operational model, the only model released before the close, showed a large further loss in degree days, driving gas prices lower. The American and European ensembles and the European operational model, released later in the day, were all more supportive.”
Still, daily cash market prices “remained extremely weak” Tuesday, putting downward pressure on futures prices, according to the firm.
Cash prices at Henry Hub “are likely to remain anemic again today, setting up a potential test of support at $2.40/MMBtu or below,” the EBW analysts said.
May crude oil futures were up 40 cents to $59.73/bbl at around 8:45 a.m. ET, while May RBOB gasoline was down fractionally to $1.9633/gal.
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