Continued colder trends for the mid-March time frame lent some support to natural gas futures prices in early trading Wednesday. Holding onto gains from the previous session, the April Nymex contract was up 0.5 cents to $2.844/MMBtu at around 8:45 a.m. ET.
As of early Wednesday, the latest weather data again showed colder trends over the previous 24 hours, with the pattern around mid-March now expected to generate near to slightly above normal demand, according to Bespoke Weather Services.
“We feel that models are likely pushing things a bit too far to the cool side around mid-month at this point, though we are fine with some variability mixing into what should average out as a warmer than normal state overall,” Bespoke said. The firm said it sees the “best chance of any durable below normal temperatures being confined to areas out West, where there is less impact for natural gas.”
The April contract is coming off a trading day in which it showed “considerable strength” after climbing 6.2 cents day/day, according to analysts at EBW Analytics Group.
“This steeper-than-anticipated rise is due to surprisingly strong near-term cash demand,” the EBW analysts said.
They pointed to colder-than-normal weather along the Atlantic Coast and the return of industrial demand in the Gulf Coast region as key drivers of recent spot market gains at Henry Hub.
“The primary question this morning is whether April can break through resistance at $2.88,” the EBW analysts said. “Even if it is able to do so this morning, however, traders could decide to take profits this afternoon ahead of tomorrow’s weekly storage report.”
NGI’s model is forecasting a 135 Bcf withdrawal for Thursday’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) storage report, which covers conditions during the week ended Feb. 26.
A 135 Bcf pull would exceed in magnitude both the 119 Bcf withdrawal recorded in the year-ago period and the five-year average 81 Bcf pull.
Energy Aspects issued a preliminary estimate for a 146 Bcf pull for the upcoming report.
The firm estimated a nearly 30% week/week decline in gas-weighted heating degree days for the report week.
Estimates as of late last week showed Lower 48 production returning “nearly back to its early February baseline” following last month’s freeze-offs, “but lingering early impacts of the weather disruptions has output on track to rise by just 7.5 Bcf/d week/week after the massive mid-month losses,” Energy Aspects said.
April crude oil futures were up 57 cents to $60.32/bbl at around 8:45 a.m. ET, while April RBOB gasoline was up fractionally to $1.9384/gal.
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