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Futures Struggle Off 11-Month Lows; November Called a Penny Lower

November natural gas is set to open a penny lower Tuesday morning at $3.66 as the market attempts to swallow the latest round of moderating weather forecasts and the possibility of an extended storage injection season. Overnight oil markets rose.

Traders are laying the cause of Monday's dime drop squarely at the feet of unsupportive weather. "[Monday's] big 2.6% selloff was mainly weather-driven as weekend updates to the temperature views advised not only an extension of mild trends into the first week of November but also mild patterns that stretch broadly across the entirety of the U.S.," said Jim Ritterbusch of Ritterbusch and Associates in closing comments Monday.

"This, of course, conjures up images of additional above-normal storage builds that will likely be furthered on Thursday with the contraction against five-year averages narrowing by another 25-30 Bcf. With this dynamic still in place through the rest of this month and well into November, any meaningful price advances will require a significant shift in the temperature forecasts toward the cold side. Chart damage that has been gradually developing during the past week will also be keeping many speculative accounts away from the long side of the market until a price base over several trading sessions is achieved. From here, we see light support at the $3.66 level but with more important long-term chart support failing to materialize until about the 3.40 area.

"While we view such a decline as out of reach, continued warmth through the first half of November could weigh on values by another 25 cents or so, especially with production exhibiting some unexpected strength. All in all, we have shifted into a neutral trading stance as we remain reluctant to follow this down move."

Others are card-carrying bears. Monday's price action was "continuing the trend for the moment with NOAA's six to 10s staring down above-normal temps for the majority of the consuming region (although New York/New England are on the cooler side)," said Drew Wozniak, vice president at ICAP Energy. "If one reflects on this price action, there is a fundamental change in perception. It is that storage is less important than the fact that we can produce whatever we need. This is combined with the new pipelines going live the beginning of next month. My only reservation is that Mondays have tended to be strong, but longs are just looking tired, not willing to put up much of a fight and many have capitulated...still a bear."

Weather forecasts aren't getting any more helpful. In its morning six- to 10-day outlook, WSI Corp is reporting a large ridge of above-normal temperatures extending from Illinois west to Wyoming and as far south as Texas. "[Tuesday's] forecast is warmer than previous forecasts across the eastern U.S., but cooler or not as warm across the West and north central U.S. This is due in part to the day shift and model trends.

"Forecast confidence is considered near average based on reasonably good model agreement early in the period. However, models diverge with the details as the period progresses, which hampers confidence during the back half of the period. There are risks in either direction during the end of the period. The greatest risk is to the cooler side along the East and West Coasts, as well as Texas. The interior West, Plains and Midwest may run a bit warmer."

In overnight Globex trading the expiring November crude oil contract gained 28 cents to $82.99/bbl and November RBOB gasoline rose a penny to $2.2089/gal.

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