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Models Show Slightly Cooler Temps; January Called Unchanged

January natural gas was set to open flat Wednesday morning at $3.31 as traders studied weather models, and the energy complex gets a boost from surging oil quotes. Overnight oil markets soared on hints of an OPEC deal to curb production.

Overnight weather models turned slightly cooler, but agreement between the various models used is lacking.

The U.S. weather model “is back on the colder side, sort of," said Commodity Weather Group President Matt Rogers in a morning report. "After a few weird days when the American weather model guidance ran warmer than the European versions for the 11-15 day outlook, the roles have reversed back to their usual roles with the American ensemble now the coldest-looking 11-15 day.

"The 'sort of' part is that now the European ensemble is colder/faster than the American version in the six-10 day range as it sends cold to Texas faster and sweeps the cold front eastward across the U.S. faster next week. We edged our timing slightly faster for the Midwest and East, but were a bit more aggressive for Texas given concerns of faster southward progress of the colder air along the flat Plains."

Weather uncertainty along with a myriad of factors ranging from full storage, slowing production, and a mild start to the winter have producers layering in a greater number of hedges.

BTU Analytics analyst Corey Boettiger said it had been “a rocky road for natural gas producers.” In a review of 3Q2016 natural gas hedging by U.S. producers, Boettiger said 2017 hedges “were up across the board...Based on the new numbers of roughly 25 select independent producers, gas hedges for 2017 are up by nearly 3.5 Bcf/d compared to where they were in the second quarter.”

Notable additions included nearly 1 Bcf/d by Chesapeake Energy Corp. and 850 MMcf/d by Southwestern Energy Co. Range Resources Corp. added hedges through its acquisition of Memorial Resource Development Corp., while Rice Energy added hedges through its acquisition of Vantage Energy, Boettiger noted.

“Among the chosen producers, nearly 50% of 2017 gas production is hedged, up from 35% of 2017 production in the second quarter of this year.”

In his work with Market Profile Tom Saal, vice president at FCStone Latin America said to expect the market to test Tuesday's value area at $3.333 to $3.303. Market Profile is a breakout trading system, and Saal identifies the initial balance at $3.351 to $3.277. Movement above or below that range should be bought/sold accordingly. Saal pegged initial trading targets higher at $3.388 and lower at $3.240.

In overnight Globex trading January crude oil vaulted over $3 to  $48.39/bbl and January RBOB gasoline surged 7 cents to $1.4472/gal.

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