Thursday, June 3, 2010

Natural Gas

I believe natural gas is putting in a bottom, and it has the potential for an extended bullish run.

Looking at figure 1, which is a monthly chart of the cash data for natural gas, we note that natural gas has gotten crushed over the last 2 years. The indicator in the bottom panel is the "next big thing" and this suggests that natural gas has the technical characteristics of an asset about to undergo a secular trend change from down to up.

Figure 1. Natural Gas/ monthly

Figure 2 is a weekly chart of the cash data for natural gas. The large black dots are key pivot points or areas where buying and selling are most likely to take place. The smaller black dots are regular pivot points. The close over 2 key pivot points remains bullish, and price is now moving higher above the original breakout point at 3.33. This is also forming a series a higher lows, which is also a positive technical sign.

Figure 2. Natural Gas/ weekly

One of the issues of trading natural gas from a stock perspective has been the vehicle from which we can profit from our observations. The United States Natural Gas Fund (symbol: UNG) appears to be a flawed product primarily because it relies upon futures contracts and the fund is prone to under performance especially if the market is in contango. A new option for those interested in tracking natural gas and it is the i-Path DJ-UBS Natural Gas Total Return Sub Index Exchange Traded Notes (symbol: GAZ). (For those interested about how exchange traded notes (ETN's) work and why they are different than ETF's and why they may be better for tracking commodity indices, I refer you to this article: ETN's.) GAZ is an ETN that trades 200,000 shares a day on average. Figure 3 is a weekly chart of GAZ with key pivot points identified by the black dots.

Figure 3. GAZ/ weekly

For GAZ, price is currently above the key pivot at 9.74 and this becomes support. The next level of resistance comes in at 13.66.

Lastly, this "call" is purely technical, and fundamental dynamics are not considered for natural gas. While I like to believe that all known information about an asset is contained in the price, some investors may feel more comfortable with a more balanced approach (i.e., fundamental plus technicals). Therefore, this would be a good starting point for your analysis.


DeathBySavagery said...

Really enjoy your stuff... The best vehicle for trading nat gas is the futures. In fact, it's really the only vehicle. If somebody has a 401k or a small account (like $15,000) then the futures don't make sense. But with larger accounts, futures really are the best option.

If your broker doesn't offer inexpensive, integrated futures trading... then you need a new broker!

John Galt said...

the best vehicle is to own the reserves in the ground. and be shorting major portions(hedging) your production years into the future at prices several dollars higher than cash prices today.

very limited storage and improved technologies make gas recovery costs cheaper every day. some estimates of Marcellus shale play are in the $1.00 range. with gas prices much/any higher than they are today, other, higher cost, traditional plays will get turned back on. playing futures in this contango is a fools errand.