June natural gas is expected to open unchanged Tuesday morning at $3.21 as traders attempt to navigate a directionless market while weather forecasts call for cooler conditions and heating loads to be above seasonal norms. Overnight oil markets rose.

"The 6-10 day period forecast is a bit cooler than yesterday's forecast, except across the Rockies and Plains," said WSI Corp. in its Tuesday morning report to clients. "CONUS GWHDDs are up 2.8 to 40, which are 8.8 above average, and PWCDDs are down 0.5 to 8.9.

Any small shift with the track of these systems can cause the forecast to deviate. There is still a slight colder risk over the East and Southwest. The Northwest, northern Rockies and central U.S. have some minor warmer potential."

Traders are awaiting the proper moment to strike in initiating a short position but admit that timing such a trade in current choppy conditions is difficult. "While price volatility of the past month has been a bit stretched compared to usual tendencies during early spring, the fact that values at the beginning of May are essentially unchanged from the start of April is not uncommon," said Jim Ritterbusch of Ritterbusch and Associates in a Tuesday morning report to clients.

"As the market proceeds through the shoulder period, a major event is usually required to force a sustained price move, and such an event has not been forthcoming. Meanwhile, money managers were forced off of a longstanding net short position via the strong 40% price advance across March and into early April. At the present time, the funds and other speculative entities appear noncommittal in approaching this market from either side amidst choppy trading conditions.

"So while our trading bias remains bearish in anticipation of an eventual decline to about 3.05 per nearest futures, the timing in establishing a short position amidst a wide swinging market remains difficult. We will likely await a supportive storage figure on Thursday capable of pushing June futures up to about the $3.33 area before establishing a new short recommendation."

In overnight Globex trading June crude oil gained 18 cents to $49.02/bbl and June RBOB gasoline added 2 cents to $1.5434/gal.