Continued colder-than-normal temperatures in the outlook helped to push a recently volatile natural gas futures market higher in early trading Monday. The May Nymex contract was up 6.1 cents to $1.794/MMBtu at around 8:45 a.m. ET.
The latest weather guidance heading into Monday’s trading carried over expectations from prior to the weekend, according to Bespoke Weather Services.
“We still see strong cold covering much of the nation this week relative to normal at this time of the year, strongest in the Plains and Midwest, where some areas the next five days will see temperatures that average 15 or more degrees below normal for the period as a whole,” Bespoke said.
Still, the firm said the market will “definitely need to see some tightening” in the supply/demand balance “in order to put together any kind of sustainable rally in the front month contract. Key word is ”sustainable,’ as we have seen rather large moves the last few weeks, even when there is little change in underlying data.”
Natural gas prices could “struggle to find direction” during the upcoming week, according to analysts at EBW Analytics Group. Traders will have to determine “how seriously to take talk” of easing restrictions designed to curb the Covid-19 pandemic. They will also have to weigh the implications of the latest production cut agreement reached by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies.
“While the OPEC-plus agreement may give oil prices a brief boost, in our view it is too little too late to prevent domestic oil prices from collapsing,” the EBW analysts said. “The issues facing the natural gas market, however, are complex and difficult to assess.
“Over the next few days we expect price volatility to be high as the market tries to sort out a unique, high-stakes set of issues. We anticipate Thursday’s storage report will show further steep declines in U.S. natural gas consumption, limiting the upside potential for natural gas this week.”
Analysts at Goldman Sachs Commodities Research called the latest OPEC deal “historic yet insufficient” as the cartel and its allies agreed to cut production “by a record large 9.7 million b/d from May 1.
“…Given the difficulty for most producers outside of core OPEC to implement large cuts,” the agreement “leaves the voluntary cuts as still too little and too late to avoid breaching storage capacity, ensuring that low oil prices force all producers to contribute to the market rebalancing,” the Goldman researchers wrote. “Ultimately, this simply reflects that no voluntary cuts could be large enough to offset the 19 million b/d average April to May demand loss due to the coronavirus.”
May crude oil futures were up 17 cents to $22.93/bbl at around 8:45 a.m. ET, while May RBOB gasoline was up about a penny to around 68.8 cents/gal.
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