Natural gas futures retreated in early trading Monday as forecasts over the weekend advertised milder conditions that would limit early season cooling demand. The June Nymex contract was down 2.3 cents to $2.935/MMBtu at around 8:45 a.m. ET.
Changes in the weather data over the weekend pointed to lower overall demand for the next 15 days compared to Friday’s projections, according to Bespoke Weather Services.
This comes as the current round of cooler temperatures “gives way to warmth, although the warmth is farther north as opposed to being focused down in the South” where it would result in higher cooling degree days (CDD), Bespoke said. “We do suspect this warmer trend holds in the eastern half of the nation as we move into late May and early June.”
By that time “simply continuing a similar pattern would finally grow more bullish, as the warmer than normal temperatures would begin to generate more CDD,” the firm added.
Looking back at last week’s price action, front-month futures have been trading within a range spanning from around $2.90 to the low side up to around $3.00 to the high side, according to analysts at EBW Analytics Group.
“Traders appear likely to continue probing both ends of the range in the days ahead,” the EBW analysts said.
The EBW analysts characterized the weekend forecast changes as modestly bearish, with cooler temperatures expected to develop from Texas through the Southeast as warmer temperatures develop over the Upper Midwest during the May 14-20 time frame.
“Strong late-season heating demand early this week, however, appears likely to bolster the physical market to reinforce technical support,” the EBW analysts said. “If support holds, tests of technical resistance closer to $3.00 may be likely by mid-week.”
From a fundamentals standpoint, Bespoke said various daily data points — such as production and export volumes — heading into Monday’s trading suggested prices could continue to remain “choppy” in the $2.90-2.95 area near-term.
“Until we see” multiple Energy Information Administration (EIA) storage reports “confirm a loosening trend, or see cash prices drop materially, there probably is not a ton of downside risk,” Bespoke said. “At the same time, the changes in the data suggest a difficult time breaking significantly higher as well.”
Looking ahead to Thursday’s EIA report, NGI’s model is forecasting an 82 Bcf injection for the week ended May 7. That would match the five-year average build of 82 Bcf. Last year, EIA recorded a 104 Bcf injection for the similar week.
June crude oil futures were up 47 cents to $65.37/bbl at around 8:45 a.m. ET, while June RBOB gasoline was up about 2.7 cents to $2.1542/gal.
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