With traders turning their attention to upcoming Energy Information Administration (EIA) storage data, expected to show another plump weekly injection, natural gas futures were hovering close to even early Thursday. The Nymex July futures contract was trading 0.7 cents lower at $2.371/MMBtu shortly after 8:30 a.m. ET.

Last week, the EIA shocked with a reported injection that was at least 10 Bcf above even the highest projection.

For this week’s report, set to release at 10:30 a.m. ET, a Bloomberg survey of 16 analysts showed injections ranging from 103 Bcf to 121 Bcf, with a median of 109 Bcf. A Reuters poll of 19 analysts had a range reflecting a build between 104 Bcf and 124 Bcf, with a median of 109 Bcf. Intercontinental Exchange futures settled Wednesday at a 110 Bcf injection for this week’s report, which covers the period ended May 31. NGI projected a 111 Bcf build.

Last year, the EIA recorded a 93 Bcf injection for the similar week, while the five-year average stands at 102 Bcf.

“It was hotter than normal from Texas to the Mid-Atlantic coast, where highs of 90s to 100 degrees were common” during the report period, NatGasWeather said. “It was cooler than normal across the West, Northern Plains and New England. Our algorithm predicts a build of 106 Bcf, to the bullish side, although it’s a tougher build to predict due to the Memorial Day holiday.”

As for the overnight guidance, NatGasWeather viewed the changes as mixed, with some datasets slightly cooler and others adding a small amount of demand to the outlook.

“We continue to look toward June 18-20 for the next opportunity for more ominous heat, although still with much more data needing to come on board after failing to trend hotter overnight to keep weather sentiment bearish,” the forecaster said. “...It’s likely going to take a rather bullish storage report miss to stem the tide of negative sentiment after prices sold off more than 20 cents since last week.”

With injections expected to shrink toward the end of June, natural gas prices could be nearing a bottom, according to EBW Analytics Group CEO Andy Weissman.

“Today’s report could be quite important,” he said. “The consensus forecast is for an injection of 111 Bcf. There is a substantial possibility, though, that the injection could be several Bcf higher. If it is, the July contract could challenge support at $2.32 or lower.

“After this week, however, only one more 100 Bcf-plus injection is likely in June,” Weissman added. “By Week 2, we expect injections to decline every week while cash market demand climbs. As this transition occurs, the market is likely to bottom out -- with the potential for significant gains later in June if leading forecasts for the period beyond July 4 start to call for hot weather.”

July crude oil futures were up 51 cents to $52.19/bbl just after 8:30 a.m. ET, while July RBOB gasoline was up about 2.3 cents to $1.7153/gal.