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Traders Mulling Strong Technicals, Changing Weather; October NatGas Seen Flat

October natural gas is set to open unchanged Friday morning at $2.99 as traders balance changes in the weather with a solid technicial underpinning. Overnight oil markets eased.

Top traders see a rangebound market. "[Thursday's] sizable 2.4% price decline in the face of a seemingly neutral EIA storage figure suggested some bearish adjustment to the short term temperature views beyond next week," said Jim Ritterbusch of Rittebusch and Associates in closing comments.

"The supply hike of 52 Bcf was appreciably below our expectation but the counter intuitive price decline tended to reinforce our view that chasing this week's price rally could prove hazardous. We were pushed to the sidelines earlier in the week at about current levels and, from here, we will expect some price consolidation largely within parameters of about $2.82 - 3.10."

Market technicians still see the uptrend intact as long as prices don't fall about another 15 cents. "While the bears were able to generate a reversal from the critical $3.039-3.085-3.147 zone they were not able to take out any meaningful support levels," said Brian LaRose, market technician at United ICAP in closing comments Thursday.

"To suggest a top is forming $2.882-2.830 will need to be broken. Only if the bears can make that happen will we have a case for a top being in place. And if the bears can not get the job done? Then the trend will remain up."

Gas buyers tasked with procuring supplies for power generation over the weekend across the broad PJM footprint may have to be on their toes as weather conditions are expected to change and provide little in the way of wind generation to offset power purchases. "Fair, unseasonably warm and moderately humid conditions are expected across the majority of the power pool [Friday]," said forecaster WSI Corp. in a morning report to clients.

"High temps will range in the upper 70s, 80s to near 90 in spots, [but] a 'back-door' cold front will push southward into the Mid Atlantic during the weekend. This may trigger a few showers, but more importantly usher a much cooler, more seasonable air-mass into the Mid Atlantic by Sunday and Monday. Light and variable wind generation is expected through the weekend. Output may occasionally peak between 1-2 GW. Wind gen will trend upward late into the weekend into early next week."

In overnight Globex trading November crude oil fell 5 cents to $46.27/bbl and October RBOB gasoline shed a penny to $1.3731/gallon.

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