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April Contract Sliding Toward Expired March; April Seen Down 11 Cents

April natural gas is set to open 11 cents lower Monday morning at $2.68 as weather forecasts remain unsupportive and the April contract normalizes with the expired March at $2.627. Overnight oil markets rose.

Overnight weather models turned more moderate, with warmth displacing early cold in the six- to 10-day period. "The forecast undergoes warm changes versus previous expectations, especially in the first half of the period," said MDA Weather Services in a Monday morning report to clients. "Strong ‘aboves’ are now projected in the Midcontinent early on ahead of low pressure, with much aboves spreading into the East by mid-period after ‘belows’ at the onset.

"Some brief cold changes are noted late in the wake of the cold front, with temperatures retreating to below-normal levels in the Midwest and East on day 10 as high pressure advances in. However, the forecast remains warmer than guidance here given recent model biases. Persistent warmth is seen from the Southwest to Texas.

“The East could see stronger warmth more on par with recent warmth ahead of the cold front. Models suggest colder risks with high pressure across the eastern half late.”

Risk managers see natural gas prices congesting around current levels. "Now that gas has given back all of its cold weather gains, and has discounted warmer than normal temperatures for the balance of the month, there is a good chance we could consolidate around current levels for a couple weeks," said Mike DeVooght, president of DEVO Capital Management, in a weekend note to clients. "If March turns cold, we could see a rally back to the $3.20-3.30 level."

Forecasts are calling for at least one shot of cold.

Early in the week a surge of warm air is expected to charge through the Ohio Valley. "As quickly as the warmth returns, a storm system is set to barrel across the country during the middle of the week and wash the spring preview away," said AccuWeather.com meteorologist Faith Eherts.

She added that this storm will usher in cold air from the Midwest to the mid-Atlantic and New England. "While temperatures will remain near or slightly below average in most locations, the steep temperature drop and gusty winds will make the late week and weekend weather feel strikingly colder.

"By Friday, temperatures will struggle to exceed 40 degrees in the Interstate 95 corridor from Boston to Washington, DC, while interior regions get stuck near the freezing mark.

"A bit of snow may accompany the colder air from the Midwest to the mid-Atlantic on Thursday into Friday. With an active weather pattern ahead for March, another warmth-busting cold front could impact the eastern U.S. again next week.”

In overnight Globex trading April crude oil added 49 cents to $54.48/bbl and April RBOB gasoline gained 2 cents to $1.7547/gal.

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