October natural gas futures were set to open Thursday about 1.2 cents higher at around $2.875/MMBtu, bolstered by warmer overnight weather trends as the market looks ahead to the release of today’s government storage report.
NatGasWeather said overnight guidance maintained heat for the Sept. 5-8 period.
“The pattern is hot enough next week to be considered bullish, aided by hotter recent trends Sept. 6-10 due to slowing of upper high pressure weakening and where the European model has been hotter than the rest of the data the past two runs,” the firm said. “Most datasets still bring cooling after Sept. 7-8 as numerous weather systems track across the country ease widespread late summer heat, but with some uncertainty due to the hotter trending European model.”
EBW Analytics Group CEO Andy Weissman also pointed to a warmer shift in the latest forecast, with the period from Friday to Sept. 6 expected to produce a “whopping” 27 cooling degree days (CDD) more than seasonal norms.
“Total CDDs for the week are higher than a typical mid-summer peak,” he said. Weissman predicted a rally of as much as 7-10 cents for the October contract should the Energy Information Administration (EIA) storage build come in below consensus of around 62-63 Bcf.
While it mostly has taken a back seat to production despite sitting near historic lows, storage will be front and center as EIA releases its weekly inventory report at 10:30 a.m. ET. Estimates have been wide-ranging for the week ending Aug. 24, in the high 40s to low 70s Bcf.
A Bloomberg survey of 14 market participants showed estimates ranging from 49-68 Bcf, with an average of 60 Bcf and a median of 62 Bcf. A Reuters poll of 20 market participants pointed to a 66 Bcf injection. Intercontinental Exchange EIA Financial Weekly Index futures settled Wednesday at a build of 65 Bcf. The five-year average build stands at 59 Bcf.
Despite the warmer forecast trends, Bespoke Weather Services said weaker pricing along the strip was keeping its sentiment neutral instead of bullish as of Thursday morning.
“We additionally see some bearish risks with this morning’s EIA print and are looking for a number around 66 Bcf that would seem to limit upside as well,” Bespoke said. “This has us thinking any morning rally may stall in the $2.90-2.92 range before a weak strip or EIA data could pull us back.
“…Any cooler forecasts could quickly result in prices moving back toward $2.85, and if the long-range cools $2.80-2.82 would be put in play by next week,” the firm said. “Short-term, though, forecasts are supportive enough for a bounce.”
October crude oil was set to open about 43 cents higher at around $69.94/bbl, while September RBOB gasoline was trading about 1.2 cents higher at around $2.1184/gal.
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