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Cold Air Stalled; February Called 24 Cents Lower

February natural gas punched through $3 support in overnight trading and is expected to open 24 cents lower Tuesday morning at $2.89 as traders come to the realization that a cold finish to January is becoming less and less likely. Overnight oil markets tumbled.

Forecasters note that cold Canadian air lurks north of the eastern United States, but indications are not clear that it will make any concerted move south anytime soon. "There will continue to be weather systems tracking across the northern U.S. Jan. 29th -- Feb. 2nd that will attempt to tap extremely cold Arctic air, but the data continues to show it won't be easy for the cold to cross into the U.S. and is likely to only graze the upper Midwest and Northeast with frigid temperatures," said Natgasweather.com in its Tuesday morning forecast.

"The weather data is still struggling with the coming pattern, so it will be important to watch the Arctic cold pool closely because if the weather data were to trend further south with this air mass around the Feb. 1st, very strong heating demand would result. However, there is still nothing convincing showing this is going to happen, and for now, we will continue to expect seasonal cold blasts into the first week of February over the northern U.S., with relatively mild temperatures over the western, central, and southern U.S.

Tom Saal, vice president at INTL FC Stone in Miami, exhorts traders to take a close look at the weekly bar chart. He says the chart shows a "textbook reversal bottom" along with oversold conditions. "Look to test trend line and first Fibonacci retracement level at $3.617. It will take time," he said in a Tuesday morning note to clients.

For those with not as much time, market technicians see the market as stalled. "[We are] stuck in neutral territory as we enter the week. Unless the bulls can propel natgas up and over the thick cluster of resistance stretching from $3.313 to 3.465, we have no case for a bottom," said Brian LaRose, a market technician at United ICAP. At the same time, bears have no case for fresh lows unless they can crack $2.783. Clear resistance and the next challenge for the bulls will be $3.659. Break support, and there is room down to 2.581 next."

In overnight Globex trading the expiring February crude oil fell $1.47 to $47.22/bbl and February RBOB gasoline dropped 2 cents to $1.3663/gal.

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