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Bruised Bears Ready to Try Again, Yet April Called 5 Cents Higher

April natural gas is set to open 5 cents higher Friday morning at $2.86 as traders factor in some upcoming cold but remain adamant in their assessment of pending ample supply and resultant lower prices. Overnight oil markets sank.

Forecasters see periods ahead of cooler than normal temperatures interspersed with episodes of moderate warming. MDA Weather Services in its Friday morning six- to 10-day outlook said, "The key feature in this period will be an area of low pressure tracking from the Midwest to off the East Coast by mid-period. This storm will aid in the deepening of a trough over the East in the second half, allowing for a resurgence of below-normal temperatures in the East.

"Temperatures, however, briefly moderate to slightly above normal levels along the East Coast on day seven prior to turning colder on day eight. The pattern amplifies during the second half, with a rebuilding of the upper levels over the West. This will bring a more intense coverage of 'aboves' to the West at that time."

MDA said risks to the forecast include the central U.S. becoming colder under high pressure and west of the Rockies beyond mid-period could become warmer under a strong ridge aloft.

Traders remain undeterred in their bearish assessment in spite of recent setbacks. "Despite the fact that we were pushed to the sidelines from the previously suggested short trading idea given a close above the $2.89 level, we remain steadfast in a bearish opinion of this market as we still see high probability of a supply decline to the $2.50 area," said Jim Ritterbusch of Ritterbusch and Associates in closing comments Thursday to clients.

"We are still viewing the $2.80-2.88 region as preferred sell region when referencing the nearby May futures contract. And despite some cool temps, we still see a weakening physical trade going forward that could prove accommodating toward widening carrying charges that should encourage renewed entry into the short side by the large noncommercial entities who have recently been exiting the market.

"[Thursday's] strong bearish response to a storage miss of only about 4-5 Bcf attests to a continued weak fundamental undertone that will soon be featured by a record pace of production that will be outweighing the impact of some cold short-term temperature forecasts. The 45 Bcf supply draw was 3 Bcf more than we expected but less than Street ideas. As a result, the supply deficit against average levels was unchanged at 225 Bcf. We still see this shortfall being erased as early as next month as the production factor is apt to increase injections at a stronger than normal pace."

In overnight Globex trading the expiring April crude oil fell 7 cents to $43.89/bbl and April RBOB gasoline dropped 2 cents to $1.7512/gal.

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