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Traders Mull Weather Ups And Downs; April Seen 2 Cents Lower

April natural gas is expected to open 2 cents lower Tuesday morning at $3.02 as traders come to grips with a highly variable weather pattern through the end of the month, and an uncertain storage impact resulting from the eastern blizzard. Overnight oil markets fell.

Analysts say not to discount the near-term cold too heavily. "[W]e feel that much of the past week's strength has been technically motivated with our expected resistance at the $3.09 level halting [Monday's] advance," said Jim Ritterbusch of Ritterbusch and Associates in closing comments Monday. Support at about the $2.82 mark should be forthcoming until the weekly EIA storage numbers are released later in the week. The market is likely discounting a withdrawal of around 50 Bcf. But surprises on the bullish side will likely pack more punch than an equivalent-sized miss on the bullish side given current upward momentum.

"A focus shift also appears to be taking place with the market now paying more attention to power demand, production and exports. While conventional thinking would suggest that this late-winter rally that is developing amidst a 363 Bcf surplus is insufficient to sustain price rallies, the possibility that this supply overhang could be shaved by as much as 100 Bcf due to the colder weather is a force to be reckoned with for the time being."

Traders can expect a series of volatile weather patterns going forward. "[A] potent winter storm and cold blast will hammer the Mid-Atlantic and East this week, but then with a milder break late this coming weekend," said Natgasweather.com in a Tuesday morning report.

"Another cold shot is still expected across the northern U.S. March 22 -23rd, but with important details in need of refining. A colder trending system March 24-26th is to be followed by a mix of mild and cool periods March 27-31st , although being a touch milder over the east-central U.S. in overnight data."

Tom Saal, vice president at FCStone Latin America in Miami in his work with Market Profile expects the market to test Monday's value area at $3.056 to $3.038 and "could test" $3.013 to $2.983. "Maybe" the market tests $2.963 to $2.937, Saal said in a Monday morning note to clients.

In overnight Globex trading April crude oil fell 67 cents to $47.73/bbl and April RBOB gasoline fell fractionally to $1.5767/gal.

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