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Forecasts Warm Again, But December Called 2 Cents Higher

December natural gas is expected to open 2 cents high Tuesday morning at $2.28 as prices stabilize and traders discount still-moderating temperature outlooks. Overnight oil markets rose.

The temperature outlook overnight turned warmer. "[Tuesday's] 6-10 day forecast has swung back to the warmer side over a good portion of the central and eastern U.S., with the biggest revisions over the South," said WSI Corp. in its Tuesday morning report. "The West is a little bit colder. GWHDDs dropped 3.4 to 71.6 for the CONUS.

"Forecast confidence is average as models are in reasonably good agreement with the general timing and progression of the pattern. However, there is increasing spread with a storm system during the end of the period. The forecast has room to sway in either direction at this point. The southern and eastern U.S. have more of an upside risk, while the West and northern Plains have a slight risk to the colder side."

Moderating weather forecasts can't seem to get out of the way of market bulls, and analysts point out that the forecast calls for sharply warmer readings than a year ago.

According to AccuWeather.com figures, Chicago scored 852 heating degree days (HDD) in November 2014, well above it's average of 707. New York City registered 584 HDDs, also well above its November norm of 519.

"Although it's not unusual for storage injections to continue into the third week of November as the current outlook suggests, we note the minor build anticipated for the week ending Nov. 20 is going to be a dramatic contrast with the remarkable 141 Bcf net withdrawal from a year ago," said Tim Evans of Citi Futures Perspective in closing comments to clients Monday.

Evans' figures show that by Nov. 20, the year-on-five-year storage surplus will reach a plump 323 Bcf, and he noted that the stout 141 Bcf withdrawal of a year ago "is also a component of the five-year average draw of 36 Bcf. The upshot is that while the upcoming temperatures are warmer than normal, some of the bearish storage comparison says more about last year than it does about the current cycle.

"The new record high in storage and the expanding year-on-five-year average do represent ongoing downward fundamental pressure on prices that warn against betting on a rebound. At the same time, however, over the intermediate term we do see potential for the market to find a bottom here, with the eventual arrival of more seasonal temperatures prompting a round of short-covering that could lift nearby futures back to $3.00 or more over the next two to three months. Winter may not look as supportive as in the past, but it will still produce the strongest physical consumption of the year."

In overnight Globex trading December crude oil rose 23 cents to $46.37/bbl and December RBOB gasoline gained a penny to $1.3896/gal.

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