The September natural gas futures contract was set to open Monday near even at around $2.782/MMBtu as forecasts over the weekend remained hot for the second week of August.

Weekend guidance confirmed long-range heat as expected, according to Bespoke Weather Services, which noted a small increase to its gas-weighted degree day (GWDD) expectations for the next two weeks.

“Increases in cool risks across the Southeast into the long-term look to cap how elevated GWDDs nationally can get, though heat from the Midwest into the Northeast still looks likely,” Bespoke said. “...Though forecasts through Aug. 13 are not quite as impressive as we had expected Friday, the increased confidence in relatively sustained heat should still be fairly supportive.”

Bespoke said a break of resistance at $2.80-2.82 would be difficult in the near-term, “and production looks to have risen back higher into the end of the month, which may pressure prices as well.”

Radiant Solutions reported hotter changes to both its six- to 10-day (Aug. 4-8) and 11-15 day (Aug. 9-13) outlooks over the weekend. In the six- to 10-day, hotter trends were focused in the Midwest, according to the forecaster.

“This comes in conjunction with a trough over the Gulf of Alaska, and a deeper feature shifted closer to the West Coast today has changes being cooler in the West,” compared to  Sunday’s forecast, Radiant said. “Overall, this is a broadly warmer than normal period nationally, with aboves spanning from the Rockies toward the Midwest and East.

“Extremes, however, are lacking from the Midwest toward the East, where a rather moist air mass in place has minimum temperatures being more anomalous than maximum temperatures.”

In the 11-15 day period, “Above normal temperatures are forecast to be widespread in coverage, encompassing a large part of the West, Central and Northeast...Conditions are expected to remain unsettled in the East, however, resulting in occasional cooler risks,” according to Radiant.

From a technical standpoint, the August contract’s strong finish last week put the September contract in position for further gains this week as it takes over as the front month, according to EBW Analytics Group CEO Andy Weissman.

“In its final week of trading, the August contract repeatedly tested support at $2.70. Support held, establishing a firm floor at $2.71-2.73. With a floor in place, the August contract moved higher last Friday, ending the week at $2.822 -- its highest close in two weeks,” Weissman said.

This technical momentum coincides with a shift over the weekend toward higher cooling demand expectations, especially for the Aug. 3-9 and Aug. 10-16 storage weeks, he said.

“If this forecast holds, natural gas could end the summer with the storage deficit versus the five-year average at a new high for the year,” Weissman said. “This forecast shift may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, causing the front month to bust out of its trading range of the past several weeks. A test of resistance at $2.86 is likely later this week, with a potential challenge to $2.95 or higher during August.”

September crude oil was set to open about $1.34 higher at around $70.03/bbl, while August RBOB gasoline was trading fractionally higher at around $2.1699/gal.