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Weather Outlook Mixed; May Natural Gas Called Near Even

May natural gas was set to open Tuesday about a penny higher at around $2.753, continuing to trade in a tight range after settling close to even Monday.

Prices could soon break in either direction after recent range-bound action, according to EBW Analytics Group CEO Andy Weissman, who noted the prompt month finished “virtually unchanged” Monday after “trading within a few tenths of a cent of $2.74” for much of the day.

“This exceedingly tight range-bound trading often occurs immediately before a breakout -- potentially in either direction,” Weissman said. The Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) weekly storage data “could prove to be the tie-breaker,” with estimates indicating a single-digit injection for the upcoming report that “could push prices higher.

“By two weeks from now, however, when EIA reports the first of eight consecutive 100 Bcf-plus injections, downward pressure is likely to resume.”

Meanwhile, forecasters noted a mix of changes to the weather outlook overnight.

In its six- to 10-day (April 29-May 3) outlook Tuesday, Radiant Solutions observed warmer changes “from the eastern Midwest to the East, where a stronger and longer duration round of aboves and much aboves precede low pressure in the mid- to late period. However, there remains uncertainty following that low’s passage late in the Midcontinent, and this stems from model disagreement in how much ool air may be pulled into the region.”

Radiant’s 11-15 day (May 4-8) outlook had lower than normal confidence based on “a larger spread between the broadly warmer output from the” Global Forecast System “model and the cooler solution from the European model. Our forecast takes the middle ground, with belows in the Midwest but generally near normal temperatures elsewhere in the Eastern Half.”

NatGasWeather.com similarly viewed the overnight data as “a little milder” for next week and somewhat colder May 4-5 in the northern United States, particularly in the European model.

Guidance “maintained a weather system into the southern and eastern U.S. this weekend for a few days of slightly stronger than normal demand, although it continues to favor very comfortable temperatures the first week of May besides portions of the far northern U.S.,” NatGasWeather said.

“...When prices finally do break this narrow multi-month trading range, if it’s higher it will be blamed on hefty storage deficits that will soon exceed 500 Bcf not being replenished at a fast enough pace for the market’s liking. If prices sell off, record production and warmer May weather patterns will likely share the blame.”

June crude oil was set to open about 27 cents higher at around $68.91/bbl, while May RBOB gasoline was trading fractionally higher at around $2.1302/gal.

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