June natural gas was set to open Wednesday close to even at around $2.833/MMBtu as analysts see the bulls running up against resistance ahead of a potentially pivotal Energy Information Administration (EIA) storage report Thursday.

On Tuesday the June contract traded as high as $2.864 before pulling back to settle slightly lower on the day at $2.836.

The June contract attempted to rally but then retreated “after it was clear that resistance would hold,” according to EBW Analytics Group CEO Andy Weissman.

“To a much greater degree than normal, the direction in which prices move between now and Friday could indicate where they are likely to head for the remainder of May,” Weissman told clients Wednesday. “The trend this year has been for prices to barely move on Wednesdays, with traders waiting until after EIA releases its storage report Thursday before they decide on their next move.

“This pattern is likely to be repeated today. If a significant move occurs, however, it could provide an early indication of the relative strength of bulls and bears.”

Many traders are giving weight to Thursday’s report “in calibrating the likely supply/demand balance this summer,” creating the potential for the market to overreact to differences between consensus estimates and the actual injection number, according to Weissman.

Intercontinental Exchange EIA storage futures settled at Tuesday at an injection of 104 Bcf, 1 Bcf lighter than the previous settle. Last year, EIA recorded a 64 Bcf build for the period, and the five-year average is an 87 Bcf injection.

As for the latest weather outlook, Radiant Solutions’ forecast Wednesday trended warmer in the six- to 10-day period in the Northwest, with changes elsewhere “only detailed and minor in a period which remains warmer than normal for most areas.

“This includes in Western Canada where much aboves appear early on and expand in coverage into parts of the Midwest during the second half of the period. Above normal temperatures are also forecast for the duration of the period in the South; although, the daily threat for thunderstorms is a concern for max temperatures reaching forecast levels.”

In the 11-15 day outlook, Radiant said the forecast Wednesday saw a mix of changes, “trending additionally warmer from the Northwest to the Midwest but cooler in the South.”

NatGasWeather.com similarly said it still expects warmer than normal conditions over most of the country in the next two weeks.

“We continue to believe more intimidating heat will be required to trend weather sentiment bullish, but that doesn’t mean prices can’t rally further due to current large storage deficits and the fact they will be very slow to recover,” NatGasWeather said. “Even then, they could quickly reverse course this summer and increase upon the arrival of more intimidating heat. We continue to expect early June to be warmer than normal as highs of 90s gain ground over the southern and eastern U.S. and will be the focus of the markets in the days ahead.”

June crude oil was set to open about 35 cents lower at around $70.96/bbl, while June RBOB gasoline was trading fractionally lower at around $2.1987/gal.