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Overnight Forecast Changes Seen Bearish; April Called Lower

April natural gas was set to open Tuesday about 3.5 cents lower at around $2.652 as forecasters pointed to overnight heating demand losses in the outlook starting around the second week of March.

“Weather guidance overnight shifted back in a more bearish direction as heating demand from March 5-9 generally trended less impressive across models,” Bespoke Weather Services told clients Tuesday. While “the overall pattern did not appear much different” the models “clearly had less intense cold focused across the eastern half of the country compared to afternoon runs Monday, with the result being a decent tick lower in heating demand overall.”

Bespoke said it is looking for April to dip “toward the $2.62 support level to close the premium it had over the March contract, especially with recent weak cash prices and relatively unimpressive weather.” It expects “more of a support test than a break.”

In its latest 11-15 day outlook, Radiant Solutions said the forecast trended “broadly warmer in this period compared to Monday’s report as a result of an expanding trough from the Gulf of Alaska toward the West Coast.

“This feature should act to limit the connection to colder source regions for those features associated with the” negative North Atlantic Oscillation, though “the period is still expected to average in the slightly below normal category in parts of the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast,” Radiant said. “Warmer leanings from normal are in the Southwest and associated with ridging over central and eastern Canada.”

Forecast confidence is low-to-moderate, the firm said.

The March contract expired Monday at $2.639. That’s a drop of nearly $1.00 from February’s expiration at $3.631, with prices more recently settling into a pattern of mostly small day/day moves.

ICAP Technical Analysis analyst Walter Zimmerman on Monday said it still takes “a magnifying glass to find the last 10 trading days of price action. Natural gas is failing to rebound after falling hard to pivotal support.

“However, natural gas is also not breaking down below pivotal support,” Zimmerman said. “Hence the daily trend is neutral. And even if natural gas breaks $2.520, there is a solid case for the $2.190-2.120 zone as a seasonal cycle low.”

April crude oil was set to open about 26 cents lower at around $63.65 Tuesday, while March RBOB gasoline was down fractionally to around $1.8218/gal.

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