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More Heating Demand Seen in Long-Range; March Natural Gas Called Higher

March natural gas was set to open Tuesday about 7 cents higher at around $2.633 as weather guidance added some heating demand to the long-range outlook over the holiday weekend.

“Forecast changes are in the colder direction” in the 11-15 day period “compared to Friday and Monday’s expectations,” said Radiant Solutions in a note to clients Tuesday.

The firm attributed the colder shift to a “pattern evolution” in the North Atlantic Oscillation.

“Temperatures, however, look to hold on the warmer side of normal at the start of the period in the South and Midwest, but colder trends are expected to result in belows spanning across the Midcontinent and towards the East Coast late,” Radiant said. “Overall, temperatures average the eastern half near normal while belows are forecast to persist in most of the West. Confidence remains on the low side of moderate.”

Bespoke Weather Services said some short- and medium-term gas-weighted degree day (GWDD) losses in its outlook over the weekend were “replaced and then some in the long-term.” A pattern shift expected in late February “should allow far colder weather to simultaneously push in across the Midwest and East Coast, eventually pulling heating demand back above average across the country through the first week of March.

“...We see risks that we will continue to add GWDDs through the week as well” for early March, “leading to weather-driven demand back above average for a sustained period again,” Bespoke said. The firm expects “some initial volatility in prices...as significant short-term warmth should keep cash prices limited and Energy Information Administration (EIA) data unimpressive.”

The Desk’s Early View natural gas storage survey conducted last week pointed to a smaller withdrawal versus norms for this week’s EIA report. The average taken from 13 respondents was -116 Bcf, versus -120 Bcf a year ago and a five-year average -154 Bcf. Responses ranged from -95 Bcf to -125 Bcf.

From a technical standpoint, analysts with Rafferty Commodities Group as of Tuesday were pegging initial resistance levels at $2.646-2.677-2.700, with support in the $2.533-2.524-2.489 area.

“Since testing the lower end of the longer-term consolidation pattern at the $2.530 area, the market has drifted sideways,” the Rafferty team said.

March crude oil was set to open about 20 cents higher at around $61.88/bbl, while March RBOB gasoline was trading about 1.3 cents higher at around $1.7638/gal.

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