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Spec Shorts Stirring; September Called 2 Cents Lower

September natural gas is expected to open 2 cents lower Friday morning at $2.91 as traders see the weather outlook becoming less supportive and speculative traders line up on the short side of the market. Overnight oil markets rose.

Analysts see a rangebound market as the summer cooling season winds down and are suggesting a sidelines approach.

"A shift in consensus of short term temperature forecasts away from broad based warm ideas appears to have emboldened the money managers in adding to their net short holdings," said Jim Ritterbusch of Ritterbusch and Associates in a morning note to clients. "Although [Friday's] COT report will likely show a cut in net speculative short holdings, we look for the funds to remain in a ‘sell rallies’ mode next week with any advances back to above the $3 mark likely to be met by heavy selling. But we also feel that our expected longer term support at the $2.85 level that was validated yesterday will be able to hold through month's end. While a sharply downsized surplus of 55 Bcf relative to the averages is highly visible and hence, well discounted, such a small supply overhang could easily be erased by any storm related production disruptions into the Gulf of Mexico especially if recent coal to gas substitution trends remain intact.

"So, while we still see limited chance of a price advance to above $3.11 per nearby futures, we also see small possibility of a price drop to below our expected $2.85 support. In other words, the market appears to be trading toward the low side of an approximate 25 cent trading range. However, we are staying sidelined for now within a choppy market that is roughly unchanged from 2 months ago."

Gas buyers for incremental power generation won't have much in the way of renewable energy over the weekend to offset purchases. "[T]emps will generally range in the 80s to near 90, and high pressure will build into the eastern U.S. during Sunday through early next week," said WSI Corp. in its morning assessment of conditions across the PJM power pool. "This will support fair weather and a light west-southwest breeze which will combine to support the development of late summer warmth. Max temps will rise into the mid 80s to low 90s.”

Humidity will also play a role as "It will be moderately humid with dewpoints in the 60s. However, this summer air-mass and an approaching frontal system will support a chance for locally heavy showers and strong t-storms across the PJM West late Tuesday.

"Wind gen will subside today and become weak during the weekend. A warm west-southwest flow will cause wind gen to ramp up early next week with output upward of 2-3 GW. The partial solar eclipse (75-90%) will reduce solar gen during the early afternoon hours of Monday."

In overnight Globex trading September crude oil rose 16 cents to $47.25/bbl and September RBOB gasoline added a penny to $1.5985/gal.

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