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Eastern Cooling Seen; April Called 6 Cents Higher

April natural gas is expected to open 6 cents higher Tuesday morning at $2.78 as traders factor in a near-term cool shot. Overnight oil markets retreated.

In a Tuesday morning outlook weather forecasters found cooler trends in place. Commodity Weather Group in its six- to 10-day forecast said, "Some cooler to colder trends have occurred for the six-10 day in the last two model cycles, offering changes for the Midwest, East and South that returned some previously lost demand back to the forecast. The main event is a cold push from Sunday through Tuesday next week that lingers somewhat into Wednesday before the pattern gets more variable again for the 11-15 day.

"Some relaxation in the El Nino atmospheric response later this week and weekend could enable this outbreak to indeed have some more muscle, but we then see a more variable Pacific pattern again going into the 11-15 day. Western warming weakens over the period as some increase in undercutting Pacific flow may initiate," said Matt Rogers, president of the firm.

Commenting on Monday's price easing, Teri Viswanath, director of commodity trading strategy at BNP Paribas said, "in the absence of weather-related support, natural gas prices continue to decline as the winter heating season draws to a close. Indeed, milder weather already forced a few storage facilities to convert from withdrawing to injecting last week, supporting the possibility of a net build before month-end.

"While the nominal beginning of the injection season is April 1st each year, we note that there have been net injections in March during six of the past 11 years. Based on the updated outlook for the month, we anticipate that the industry will record at least one net injection before the official start of the 2015 injection season. We expect that the industry will hit the brakes on winter de-stocking, with storage withdrawals falling sharply from the record 198 Bcf reported for the week ending March 6th to a possible 40-45 Bcf draw for the week ending March 13th and a net build of 15-20 Bcf for the week ending March 20th."

If prognostications by OPEC are correct, spending cuts by domestic producers and the swift decline in the onshore rig count could signal a drop in U.S. oil production, and by extension associated gas, by the end of the year, the organization said Monday.

According to analysts at Raymond James, the risk in such a scenario is that the current focus on storage for building crude oil is misplaced. The broader global landscape "indicates that we should have plenty of places to store the surging oil supplies," but the analysts' concern is the continued upward march of already record-high U.S. oil inventories may lead to a "psychological trading-related selloff in the coming months."

Tom Saal, vice president at INTL FC Stone in Miami, in his work with Market Profile said he expects the market to test Monday's value area at $2.710 to $2.690 before moving on and testing value areas at $2.862 to $2.786 or $2.632 to $2.608, although he is not sure in what order.

In overnight Globex trading April crude oil fell 81 cents to $43.07/bbl and April RBOB gasoline dropped a penny to $1.7149/gal.

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