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'Trend Is Still Up,' Traders Say; May Called 4 Cents Higher

May natural gas is expected to open 4 cents higher Friday morning at $3.23 as traders adjust their forecasts to accommodate incremental heating. Overnight oil markets eased.

Overnight weather models turned cooler. "[Friday's] six-10 day period forecast is colder than previous forecasts over the eastern two-thirds of the CONUS, especially the Southeast," said WSI Corp. in its Friday morning outlook. "The western U.S. is a little warmer. As a result, CONUS GWHDDs are up 5.7 to 64.2, which are 9.4 below average.

"Even with today's colder changes, an amplified upper level pattern and deep eastern U.S. trough offers a cooler risk over the eastern half of the U.S."

Technical analysts are scratching their heads trying to figure out if Thursday's 4-cent setback in the May contract may signal a market top.

"As anticipated the May contract ran into trouble at $3.232-3.245-3.258, the 200 week MA and 0.618 of "a"="c" up from the $2.522 low," said Brian LaRose, a market analyst with United ICAP, in closing comments Thursday. "The question now, is a top brewing? Given Thursday's candlesticks and the divergence on the intraday technicals that is a scenario we must now entertain. However, bears need to crack $3.131-3.068 to confirm that is the case. Otherwise, the trend is still up."

Gas buyers responsible for purchases for power generation across the MISO footprint may not have much in the way of wind generation available over the weekend.

"High pressure will nose into the power pool during the next two days," WSI said. "This will promote partly cloudy skies and variable temperatures. In general, max temps will range in the 50s to mid 80s. The next storm system will traverse the lower Midwest and Miss Valley during Sunday and Monday with a round of heavy rain and severe thunderstorms. Temps will retreat into the 50s-70s. Wind generation will decrease and become light during the next two days with some minor improvement by Sunday."

Tom Saal, vice president at FCStone Latin America LLC in Miami, in his work with Market Profile says to look for the market to test Thursday's value area at $3.221 to $3.185. "Maybe" the market will test the week's 100% breakout target at $3.286, he said in a morning report.

In overnight Globex trading May crude oil fell 17 cents to $50.18/bbl and May RBOB gasoline dropped a penny to $1.6760/gal.

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