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No Bottom-Picking, Trader Says; March Called Up 2 Cents

March natural gas is set to open 2 cents higher Friday morning at $2.87 as traders factor in minimal changes to the already moderate weather outlook and avoid trying to pick a market bottom. Overnight oil markets fell.

Overnight weather models changed little. "Overall changes this morning are on the small side with some slight variances toward the cooler direction for the South and West in the one- to five-day with some slightly cooler East Coast conditions early next week (cool wedge in Northeast especially)," said Matt Rogers, president of Commodity Weather Group, in a Friday morning report to clients.

"The six- to 10-day results are mixed with a near-flat West, slightly cooler Midwest to South, and some bigger warmer changes for the East Coast. Warmer East and cooler West changes are noted for the 11- to 15-day range as the models struggle to shift the pattern colder. On the Pacific side, we are seeing an impressive rebuild of Alaska ridging as well as some West Coast high pressure ridging too (in some drying efforts), but on the eastern side of the continent, there is some stubborn, lingering Southeast warm ridge issues that keep the East warmer longer."

Top analysts see an ongoing weak market. "With above normal [temperature] expectations stretching into the first week of March, the possibilities of a significant price advance of more than 20-25 cents are quickly eroding, with the market likely to shift into a phase of consolidation after the March contract goes off the board at month's end," said Jim Ritterbusch of Ritterbusch and Associates in a Friday morning report to clients.

"While the month of March can still offer some significant HDD accumulation, the establishment of an increasing storage surplus will be dampening price impact. As the surplus increases, spread contangoes across 2017 are apt to expand in further, encouraging investment-type interest into the short side given unusually favorable yields when rolling into subsequent month premiums...At the end of the day, this still looks like a very bearish market condition in which attempts to pick a bottom to either outright pricing or the bull spreads should still be avoided for now."

In overnight Globex trading March crude oil shed 27 cents to $53.09/bbl and March RBOB gasoline fell 3 cents to $1.4961/gal.

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