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Can Winter Finally Be Coming? December Called A Nickel Higher

December natural gas is expected to open 5 cents higher Monday morning at $2.41 as overnight weather models turned noticeably cooler for the final 10 days of November. Overnight oil markets were mixed.

Weekend weather runs continued Friday's trend and showed cooler, if not significantly colder, temperatures ahead. Commodity Weather Group in its Monday morning outlook said, "After some colder changes began showing up stronger on Friday, the models mustered more momentum in that direction over the weekend to set up a colder final one-third of the month ahead for much of the U.S. Colder anomalies are seen at times coast-to-coast as we watch a series of two to three cool to cold outbreaks affect the forecast starting later this week and carrying through the 11-15 day time frame.

"While our outlook leans toward the more cautious (less cold) European ensembles, upper-level pattern signatures suggest that colder models like the American and Canadian versions could very well verify better, so we keep colder risks higher than warmer risks overall today," said Matt Rogers, president of the firm.

Risk managers have started to build a long market position. Mike DeVooght of DEVO Capital said in a weekly letter to clients that "On a trade basis, we have been looking for an opportunity to get long the natural gas market. We started to buy the January contract at $2.50 (light position)."

January natural gas settled Friday at $2.526.

"The weekly storage number showed a slightly higher than anticipated build, which helped to support the market later in the week," DeVooght said. "Over the next two weeks, we will experience some of the first colder than normal temperatures. Most of the colder than normal weather will be in the Western half of the country. As we look forward to the heat season, which can often be supportive to the gas market, demand expectations have been ratcheted lower because of the El Nino."

For trading and end-user accounts DeVooght advises holding a long January position at $2.50. For producers he suggests standing aside.

Not all are looking so favorably on the market. Randy Ollenberger, an analyst with BMO Nesbitt Burns, in looking at Friday's Energy Information Administration storage build of 49 Bcf said, "We believe the storage report will be viewed as positive, given the injection was below expectations. However, we see few positive catalysts for natural gas prices over the coming months."

In overnight Globex trading December crude oil rose 43 cents to $41.17/bbl and December RBOB gasoline fell a half cent to $1.2261/gal.

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