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Cold Seen Sticking Around Well into April; Natural Gas Futures Called Higher

April natural gas was set to open Tuesday about 2 cents higher at around $2.635 as overnight weather models continued to show colder temperatures lingering well into next month. May was set to open about 2 cents higher at around $2.676.

The April contract, set to expire Tuesday, traded up around $2.650 earlier in the morning before pulling back heading into the open.

Bespoke Weather Services noted an early morning run of the Global Ensemble Forecast System (GEFS) “was solidly less impressive. This has partially eroded our previous slightly bullish sentiment, though we note that the entire strip is still decently supportive so far this morning even as prices are pulling back.”

Overnight weather guidance generally held onto cold trends well into early April, with some of the changes likely “standard model noise...as models struggle to determine the exact intensity of the cold shot,” Bespoke said. “The main trend we picked up on European and overnight GEFS guidance was a continuation of cold through at least April 10 that will keep heating demand quite elevated for the time of year.”

Radiant Solutions reported colder trends in both its six- to 10-day (April 1-5) and 11-15 day (April 6-10) forecasts Tuesday.

Colder adjustments in the six- to 10-day were “focused in the Midwest and Northeast. Much belows are forecast for most days in the Midwest, with belows also in Texas in the mid-period under a Canadian air mass,” Radiant said. “As this surface high pushes eastward, temperatures fall into the below and much below normal categories late in the period in the East as well, where additional colder risks are based on some models intruding a lobe of the polar vortex into central and eastern Canada at that time.”

In the 11-15 day outlook, “below and much below normal temperatures highlight” the period “from the Midwest to the East...however, the connection to colder source regions may start to wane as the period progresses, as model trends over the past 24 hours have been for lower upper air heights over Alaska,” Radiant said. “...As such, the forecast starts to ease on the intensity of belows while keeping a Midwest to East coverage into late period.”

May natural gas could be showing signs of bottoming, according to ICAP Technical Analysis analyst Brian LaRose.

“For the moment, the May contract has held $2.614-2.600,” LaRose said. “Is this a minor pause in the downtrend or our first evidence of bottoming action? It all comes down to the technicals. If the bulls are going to have any shot at a recovery their first task is to swing the technicals in their favor. Fail to take control of the technical picture and trend will remain down. Our next downside objective in this case, $2.480-2.455.”

May crude oil was set to open about 70 cents higher at around $66.25/bbl Tuesday, while April RBOB gasoline was trading about 1.7 cents higher at around $2.0281/gal.

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