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Colder March Temps Still in Focus; Natural Gas Futures Called Higher

March natural gas was set to open Wednesday about 2 cents higher at around $2.640 after some volatile overnight action as the market continues to watch a cold pattern setting up for early next month.

“The latest overnight data held colder air arriving into the East” during the first week of March, according to NatGasWeather.com. Models were mixed “with the Global Forecast System a touch milder, but the European model colder...With most of the data on board” with colder air arriving into the East “the question becomes how long will it last?

“We see cold holding through at least March 9-10, but then uncertainty as to whether reinforcing cold shots will follow, or if a milder break should be expected,” the firm said. “We see the markets higher Tuesday based on this colder eastern U.S. trend,” though “just because the data has trended colder, it doesn’t mean prices can’t go lower, like what occurred in December when notably colder trending data failed to stop heavy selling.”

Radiant Solutions said its six- to 10-day outlook Tuesday showed a West/East “split between below and above normal temperatures.” The firm’s 11-15 day forecast trended colder, with changes “focused from the Midcontinent to the South under a more expansive push of high pressure.

“Temperatures on the cold side of normal are now forecast to average the period for most of the Lower 48, with the exceptions coming in parts of the Southwest under moderating conditions and also New England,” Radiant said.

Bespoke Weather Services said it was maintaining a slightly bullish sentiment despite “bearish overnight price action” including a “3 a.m. EDT plummet. We clearly remain quite weather sensitive with prices initially reacting to what looked like a bearish European model run before the ending yet again contained a significant amount of bullish risks.”

If weather models were to remain supportive through the first third of March and storage data does not bring any bearish surprises, prices could have room move into the $2.70-2.75 range, Bespoke said.

Following Tuesday’s 5.8-cent gain, ICAP Technical Analysis analyst Brian LaRose said in a note to clients that March could be pausing or bottoming.

“With only four days of trading left before expiration a dump to $2.189-2.121 appears unlikely for the March contract at this point,” LaRose said. “But what about April? To make this our immediate objective for the April contract two support clusters would need to be broken, $2.565-2.521 and $2.487-2.460-2.406.

“I see a greater risk for more sideways to higher price action near-term if the bears cannot get the job done.”

April crude oil was set to open about 34 cents lower at around $61.45/bbl, while March RBOB gasoline was down fractionally to around $1.7415/gal.

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