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Bears On The March; December Called 7 Cents Lower

December natural gas is expected to open 7 cents lower Friday morning at $2.19 as the technical picture continues to deteriorate and winter cold has yet to appear in forecasts. Overnight oil markets rose.

As weak as the market appears, analysts don't see another test of Tuesday's November contract lows anytime soon. "The December futures are posting new lows this morning in keeping this bear market much alive," said Jim Ritterbusch of Ritterbusch and Associates in a Friday morning note to clients. "However, we still don't expect the December contract to test the pre-expiration November futures lows of $1.95 despite the fact that mild temperature views are beginning to stretch toward mid-November.

"We feel that the weather-induced likelihood of a 4 Tcf supply peak has been discounted and that above-normal temperature trends will need to see extension well into the third week of next month if nearby gas futures are to push much lower. Forcing prices down at this late stage of the shoulder period is usually challenging given winter weather uncertainties."

Market technicians see December futures having to make Herculean strides in order to keep the market from trending lower. Brian LaRose, a market technician at United ICAP, said he has a number of bearish models but only one bullish model. In order to validate the bullish model "bulls would need to push natural gas up and over $2.441 and $2.723. For the 12-month strip, both $2.765 and $2.958 would need to be exceeded. As long as natural gas (and the 12-month strip) remains beneath these levels, the trend will continue to point down. End of story," he said in closing comments Thursday.

Gas buyers for power generation across the MISO footprint should have plenty of renewable energy to work with over the weekend. In its Friday morning report WSI Corp. said, "High pressure will briefly slide across the power pool [Friday], but the next frontal system will spread a round of showers across the region today through Saturday. Fair weather and a significant warming trend are expected during Sunday into early next week across the majority of the power pool. A southerly flow will push temperatures into the upper 50s, 60s to 70s by Monday and Tuesday.

"Light wind generation will persist this morning. However, the frontal system will cause wind gen to ramp up later today through Saturday. A developing south-east wind will continue to support elevated wind gen through early next week. During this period, output will peak upward of 6-8 GW."

In overnight Globex trading December crude oil rose 4 cents to $46.10/bbl and December RBOB gasoline gained a penny to $1.3544/gal.

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