June natural gas was set to open Wednesday about 2.7 cents lower at around $2.775/MMBtu as bears and bulls continued jockeying for position in what has been a range-bound market.

The off-hours selling Wednesday followed a 3.9-cent rally Tuesday for the June contract, which settled at $2.802 after trading as high as $2.820.

June initially tested support early Tuesday at $2.76, and “when support held, bulls ran the price up to $2.81,” EBW Analytics Group CEO Andy Weissman said. “Prices dipped once more when resistance held. While resistance at $2.81 was broken, $2.82 held, sending prices lower into close.”

Tuesday’s price action “left a bullish technical pattern in place” which suggests June could target resistance again and make a run at $2.83, Weissman said. “If resistance holds at the upper end of the trading range” on Wednesday, “an extended downward move should not be ruled out as the market focuses on relatively mild shoulder season demand and the prospect of large injections over the coming weeks.”

ICAP Technical Analysis analyst Brian LaRose said to “peg $2.823-2.846 as the gatekeeper” for a move higher.

“Punch through this band of resistance and the door will be open for an immediate pop to $2.895-2.903-2.909-2.910-.2.925, even $2.962,” LaRose said. “While we can raise the bar beyond these levels if necessary, this is as bullish as we are willing to get at this time. Meanwhile, should natural gas fail to clear $2.823-2.846, bears will have a chance to promptly regain the upper hand.”

As for the latest forecast, NatGasWeather.com said overnight guidance trended warmer, “especially across the northern U.S. for the second week of May, thereby maintaining a very comfortable spring pattern across almost the entire country for the first three weeks of May besides the hot Southwest.

“...Essentially, weather patterns look to be neutral to bearish into the foreseeable future with much larger injections to come, likely increasing to 90-100-plus Bcf,” the firm said. However, Thursday’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) storage report for the week ending April 27 “is expected to show a build of 45-55 Bcf by most estimates,” tighter versus the five-year average.

“This should increase deficits to near 550 Bcf before easing only very slightly once next week’s report accounts for the warmer northern and eastern U.S. pattern this week.”

Earlier this week, Genscape Inc. called for the EIA to report a net 55 Bcf injection into Lower 48 natural gas storage this week, while Intercontinental Exchange EIA storage futures similarly settled Wednesday at an injection of 55 Bcf for the upcoming report.

Last year EIA recorded a 68 Bcf injection during the period, while the five-year average is a build of 69 Bcf.

June crude oil was set to open Wednesday about 19 cents higher at around $67.44/bbl, while June RBOB gasoline was trading about 1.2 cents lower at around $2.0757/gal.