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Traders Mull Coming Warmth; April Called 2 Cents Lower

April natural gas is expected to open 2 cents lower Friday morning at $1.92 as traders factor in a warming trend expected for early next week. Overnight oil markets rose.

Analysts see Thursday's stout 7-cent advance as not indicative of market fundamentals and more within a pattern of overall market exuberance. "[Thursday's] rally carried to above our expected resistance at the $1.91 level per April futures following release of a seemingly neutral EIA storage report," said Jim Ritterbusch of Ritterbusch and Associates in closing comments to clients Thursday.

"While the 1 Bcf injection was only about 3 Bcf removed from average street ideas and the magnitude of the 82 Bcf surplus expansion against five-year averages appeared bearish, the gas market appeared swept up in bullish euphoria that spread across much of the equity/commodity spaces. But with storage likely to exceed a record 2.5 Tcf with next week's EIA report, constructing a strong bullish case at the beginning of the shoulder period is an arduous undertaking.

"The pace of production decline will come under the microscope during the next few weeks, and unless production drops appreciably, we still feel that this market is poised to negate the price advance of the past couple of weeks with fresh lows still possible within the coming month, even within the higher-priced May futures contract. But for now, the charts can rule and nearby futures are capable of advancing to the $2 mark within the next couple of sessions."

Gas buyers for power generation across the MISO footprint will likely have to be on their toes as significant wind generation may not be in the cards until early next week. "A pair of weak disturbances and a deepening upper-level trough will allow seasonably cool conditions to become more widespread by the end of the week through the weekend," said WSI Corp. in a Friday morning report.

"Widely scattered snow and rain showers are possible. High temps will retreat into the 30s and 40s north; 50s and 60s south. A south-southwest flow will develop early next week around fleeting high pressure and a wave of low pressure along the Canadian border. This will lead to a sharp warming trend and the return of above-average spring warmth by Tuesday. Highs may generally warm in the 50s, 60s and 70s.

"Relatively light wind generation is expected today into the weekend. A southerly wind will cause wind gen to ramp up early next week with the potential for output to exceed 10 GW."

In overnight Globex trading April crude oil rose 89 cents to $41.09/bbl and April RBOB gasoline added a penny to $1.4505/gal.

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