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Weather, Technicals Looking Soft; March Called 10 Cents Lower

March natural gas is expected to open 10 cents lower Monday morning at $3.26 as near-term weather forecasts could only come up with transient cold patterns affecting major eastern energy markets. Overnight oil markets weakened.

In its Monday morning six- to 10-day outlook MDA Weather Services said, "A variable pattern overall lends to near-normal temperatures across much of the Midwest and East while aboves are focused from California and the Southwest to Texas. The main challenge will be timing out a series of intrusions of high pressure from Canada that bring some transient colder opportunities to the East followed by some warming in between.

"The forecast resembles a blend between the colder GFS and warmer Euro, allowing for some cold opportunity but leaning more toward the Euro and Canadian late in the period, with aboves in the East ahead of an area of low pressure." MDA added that risks to the forecast include "variability limit[ing] confidence in the details, with the potential for high-pressure intrusions to be colder while conditions could be warmer in between. The southern tier may be warmer."

Market technicians studying historical chart patterns see market risk to the downside. "For the years 2007 through 2015 the average seasonal peak date is 28 December," said Walter Zimmermann, vice president at United ICAP, in closing comments Friday. "This fact gives a different message to different traders. As analysts looking for tradeable insights, what it means to us is that past 28th December the surprises will all tend to be to the downside, all the rallies will tend to be bull traps, and all the congestion zones will tend to be bear market rest stops."

According to the National Weather Service (NWS) heating loads for the week are expected at less than a seasonal pace. For the week ended Feb. 4 NWS predicts New England will see 269 heating degree days (HDD), or 12 fewer than normal. The Mid-Atlantic is expected to have 253 HDDs or eight fewer than average, and the greater Midwest is anticipated to have 269 HDDs, or 20 fewer than its normal seasonal tally.

In overnight Globex trading March crude oil fell 4 cents to  $53.13/bbl and March RBOB gasoline gave up a penny to $1.5454/gal.

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