June natural gas was set to open Monday about 1.7 cents higher at around $2.823/MMBtu as forecasters pointed to warmer changes to the outlook for the back half of May.

Model guidance over the weekend shed some heating demand in the near-term but picked up cooling demand towards the end of the month, according to Bespoke Weather Services.

“At no point are we looking at extreme heat across any individual part of the country but rather a pattern that just will bring warmth to almost the entire country, with any lingering cold air bottled up across Canada,” Bespoke said Monday.

“...June natural gas prices are rallying this morning after weekend models failed to show any real cooling trends. Instead, we see rather consistent heat through the next couple of weeks that will continue to keep” gas-weighted degree days “above average in a market that is not as loose as expected and continues to have decent storage concerns.”

Radiant Solutions noted slightly warmer changes to both its six- to 10-day and 11-15 day forecasts on Monday compared to the firm’s Sunday update.

In the six- to 10-day (May 19-23), warmer changes came in the South, “while New England leans slightly cooler. Otherwise, similarly warm pattern themes remain, with aboves forecast to average the period across most locales,” Radiant said.

The 11-15 day period (May 24-28) saw warmer adjustments focused in the Mid-Atlantic and Southwest early in the period, according to the firm.

In terms of the technical picture, as of last Friday the June contract traded above its 50-day and 100-day moving averages, said EBW Analytics Group CEO Andy Weissman.

“For technical traders, this is a very bullish scenario, triggering hopes of a continued rally -- potentially to $2.90 or higher,” he said.

The recent warmer trends in the second and third weeks of the outlook could help inspire a move higher early in the week as total cooling degree days “nationally may be the highest of the month, boosting cash prices.

“We doubt, however, that a rally will last for long or drive June significantly above Friday’s close,” Weissman said. “Current weather forecasts still indicate that weather-driven demand will decline slightly over the next three weeks. Further, by mid-week, predictions of a 100-plus Bcf injection, with several more to follow, are likely to drive prices lower.”

The Desk’s Early View survey for this week’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) natural gas storage report showed respondents on average estimating a 107.7 Bcf build, with a median of 105 Bcf. Last year, EIA recorded a 64 Bcf build for the period, and the five-year average is an 87 Bcf injection.

Intercontinental Exchange EIA storage futures settled Friday at an injection of 105 Bcf for the upcoming report.

June crude oil was set to open about 12 cents higher at around $70.82/bbl, while June RBOB gasoline was trading fractionally higher at around $2.1908/gal.