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Natural Gas Prices Forecast: Volatility Reigns Amid Weather, LNG Operations, Winter Predictions

By:
James Hyerczyk
Updated: Sep 23, 2023, 07:22 GMT+00:00

US natural gas futures revealed intricate interplays of supply and demand, setting a bearish tone for next week's market landscape.

Natural Gas Prices Forecast

In this article:

Highlights

  • U.S. natural gas futures faced a volatile week, ending with lower prices.
  • Early signs hinted at a surge, but varied factors directed market dynamics.
  • Market vulnerability underscored by reactions to East Coast storm concerns.
  • U.S. Climate Alliance’s goals signal potential shifts in long-term gas demand.

Market Overview

The week witnessed considerable volatility in U.S. natural gas futures, with prices ultimately closing lower after a series of fluctuations. Despite early signs of a potential surge, diverse factors including production levels, weather forecasts, and operational statuses of LNG plants played crucial roles in shaping the market dynamics, drawing considerable attention from industry analysts and speculators.

Early Surge and Speculation

Early in the week, gas futures experienced nearly a 4% surge due to a reduction in daily output and an increase in gas flow to LNG export plants, mirroring the contemporaneous rise in oil prices. This was notably influenced by the return to service of Texas’ Freeport LNG facility. Interestingly, while oil had seen recovery, gas prices have struggled, still feeling the repercussions of losses from the year’s first quarter record surge. This environment saw heightened interest in futures spreads, notorious for their sudden and substantial price shifts, offering speculative insights into winter weather forecasts and gas storage behaviors.

Momentum Loss and Market Concerns

However, the promising momentum was short-lived. The subsequent days saw a decline in gas prices due to reduced gas flow to LNG plants and revised expectations for milder weather. Concerns over potential record-high inventories, due to the anticipation of a mild winter, intensified. These were further compounded by the temporary shutdown of the Cove Point LNG plant and the looming threat of a potential storm reducing gas demand through power outages on the East Coast.

Continued Decline and Downward Pressure

The downward trend persisted late in the week with prices falling an additional 5% amid predictions of even milder weather and ongoing concerns about East Coast storms. In addition to the federal government reports of expected storage builds, the market experienced further downward pressure due to further reduced gas flows to LNG export plants and concerns over the potential impacts of storms on coastal areas, emphasizing the prevailing vulnerability of the market to weather-related disruptions.

Recovery and Long-term Outlook

By the week’s close, a marginal recovery was noted with prices increasing about 1% due to warmer early-October weather forecasts and increased exports to Mexico. However, the looming presence of Tropical Storm Ophelia and ambitious climate goals set by the U.S. Climate Alliance to install electric heat pumps by 2030 signaled potential shifts in the long-term outlook for gas demand, emphasizing the multifaceted influences on the natural gas market.

Weekly Summary and Forecast

In conclusion, U.S. natural gas futures underwent a tumultuous week, with multiple factors pulling prices in varying directions, resulting in a net decline by the week’s end. The interplay of supply, demand, weather conditions, and external developments outlines a bearish short-term forecast for the market, reflecting the intricacies and susceptibilities of the natural gas landscape to rapid and multifactorial changes.

Weekly Technical Analysis

Weekly Natural Gas

The Weekly Natural Gas market saw a marginal decline, with the current weekly close at 2.637 compared to the previous week’s close at 2.644. While the current price is below the 200-Week moving average of 3.764, it sits above the 50-Week moving average of 3.376. The 14-Week RSI reads 46.30, suggesting a slightly weakened momentum but not in the oversold territory.

The market operates above the main support area (1.946 to 1.440) but is significantly below the main resistance area (7.604 to 10.028). Given these indicators, the current market sentiment leans towards a cautious bearish outlook.

About the Author

James is a Florida-based technical analyst, market researcher, educator and trader with 35+ years of experience. He is an expert in the area of patterns, price and time analysis as it applies to futures, Forex, and stocks.

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