Lack of follow-through selling kept the bears guessing yesterdayat Nymex as the market ignored a trio of bearish factors-weather,storage, and cash prices-to trade nearly unchanged on the day. TheNovember contract was limited to a tight trading range and settleddown just 0.4 cents to $2.176 for the day. Estimated volume was43,394.
Articles from Fundamentals
“Fundamentals are bearish, technicals are bullish, and today[Tuesday] the bulls beat the [socks off] of the bears.” Rather thandescribing a pro sports encounter between two Chicago teams, aHouston-based aggregator was summing up his view of the physicaland futures gas markets. Led by a soaring screen that dazzledobservers with its pyrotechnics (“this is crazy,” exclaimed onemarketer), cash prices were rising by a dime or more at nearly allpoints in the face of continuing widespread mild temperatures.
The futures market spiked higher in trading Thursday, adding togains posted Wednesday evening as traders pointed to a host ofbullish factors. A “startling storage report,” continuedshort-covering, and a increasing supportive technical picture wereall cited as reasons for the advance. That prompted both theOctober and November contract to 12.5-cent gains, settling at$1.958 and $2.207 respectively.
Lacking any impetus from fundamentals or a sedate futuresscreen, the vast majority of points settled down for a level ridein a quiet market Wednesday. The few increases of any size occurredin the Rockies and California and were attributed to supplyconstraints and continuing heavy air conditioning load.
The dam supporting natural gas futures prices finally burstThursday. After successfully fighting back numerous attempts tofall below major support at $2.11 the last several weeks, the JuneNymex contract succumbed to major selling by funds yesterday, andsettled the day down 10.2 cents to $2.067. Volume was extremelyheavy, with an estimated 93,072 contracts changing hands.
Oftentimes when the natural gas futures contract moves in adirection that fundamentals do not necessarily dictate, commercialtraders are left shaking their heads and cursing those speculators”who know nothing about how the physical market works.” But as thepanelists at yesterday’s GasMart Power’98 session titled StirringUp the Natural Gas Futures Market with Locals & Funds stressed,speculative funds are here to stay, so perhaps commercials would bewell served to learn how they think.
Cash prices for the last weekend of March appeared to be payingattention to weather fundamentals for a change Friday. Markets inthe West, where it was still cold enough to matter, tended to seegains of 2-5 cents. But east of the Rocky Mountains it was adifferent story as mild temperatures sent prices down by similaramounts.