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Bulls Stirring After Modest Cooling Gains; December Called 5 Cents Higher

December natural gas is set to open 5 cents higher Wednesday morning at $2.30 as weather forecasts drift a bit cooler and analysts' estimates of Thursday's storage report are coming in on the thin side. Overnight oil markets rose.

Weather forecasters noted some cooling setting in over the South and West, but the overall warmer pattern hasn't changed appreciably. Commodity Weather Group in its morning six- to 10-day outlook shows increased coverage of below-normal temperatures extending in a broad arc from southeast Oregon to southwest Colorado to southeast Arizona.

"Some demand gain is noted today, mainly due to some cooler changes in the South and West at times, but the 6-10 day map looks warmer, thanks to progressing a warmer day from yesterday's 11-15 day. The 11-15 day itself is slightly cooler compared to yesterday but still favors a warm-dominated pattern focused toward the Midwest. Below-normal demand continues to dominate the first half to two-thirds of November in stark contrast to last year.

"Overnight models mixed again: the European ensemble continues to show the warmest option for the 6-10 day, and the upper-level pattern -- especially on the Pacific side -- still seems to support that warmer outcome the best. The last two European ensemble runs have pulled back some on the warm intensity for the 11-15 day with more near normals on the map than before. We see some variability on the clusters at the end of the 11-15 day, but the best cool chances are mainly in the South and West," said Matt Rogers, president of the firm.

Natgasweather.com's Andrea Paltrinieri estimates a storage build for Thursday's storage report at a relatively lean 51 to 53 Bcf compared to consensus estimates around 65 Bcf. She notes current bullish market factors at "a supply-demand balance with production below 71 Bcf [Tuesday] (at 70.7 Bcf), after Monday's upward revision to 71.4 Bcf, and power burns, weather adjusted, running pretty strong at 24.4 Bcf, signaling a potential switch to gas for some generators."

Bearish factors include "residential-commercial demand due to much warmer than normal temperatures over the Eastern two-thirds and along with high winds over Texas/ERCOT, which could cause a disappointing storage number for next week on an absolute basis."

In overnight Globex trading December crude oil gained 31 cents to $48.21/bbl and December RBOB gasoline tacked on 2 cents to $1.4697/gal.

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