With traders awaiting the latest storage number from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), expected to extend a streak of plump builds, natural gas futures were trading close to even early Thursday. The Nymex July futures contract was trading 0.1 cent higher at $2.277/MMBtu just after 8:30 a.m. ET.

The latest EIA inventory report, scheduled for release at 10:30 a.m. ET, could show a seventh consecutive triple-digit injection if the majority of estimates are confirmed.

A Bloomberg survey of 14 market participants showed an injection range between 96 Bcf and 113 Bcf, and a median of 105 Bcf. A Reuters survey ranged from a 96 Bcf build to a 115 Bcf build, with a median of 105 Bcf. NGI also projected a 105 Bcf injection.

Last year, the EIA recorded a 95 Bcf injection, while the five-year average injection stands at 84 Bcf.

“It was cooler than normal over most of the country besides the West Coast and far southern U.S.” during this week’s EIA report period, according to NatGasWeather. “Our algorithm predicts a build of 107 Bcf, a touch to the bearish side.”

As for the overnight weather data, the forecaster noted only small changes, including the loss of a couple cooling degree days (CDD) in the Global Forecast System (GFS) outlook over the past 24 hours.

“The European model yet again failed to trend hotter and continues to lag the GFS model by more than 15 CDDs over the 15-day forecast,” NatGasWeather said. “To our view, the GFS still looks hot enough to satisfy, but the European model needs to be hotter. It doesn’t help that most of the data isn’t quite sure if the hot upper ridge will cover enough of the eastern half of the U.S. July 3-7,” an area “where the data needs to be hotter, including the GFS.

“...Bears remain in solid control as long as prices remain under recent resistance of $2.40.” Breaking above this level “would likely require the supply/demand balance to show impressive tightening or the European model to show notable hotter trends.”

The “tailspin” heading into Wednesday’s settle, which eventually left the July contract down 5.2 cents on the day, came despite no obvious change in the fundamentals that would justify such a move, according to EBW Analytics Group.

Wednesday’s price swings “most likely reflected computer-driven trading, with many traders staying on the sidelines until today’s weekly storage report,” EBW CEO Andy Weissman said. “This morning’s report may be particularly important. Major surveys are predicting an injection as high as 107 Bcf. We expect a smaller build. If this morning’s reported injection is 107 Bcf or higher, gas prices could take another major step down before rebounding.”

July crude oil futures were up $1.77 to $55.53/bbl just after 8:30 a.m. ET. July RBOB gasoline was up about 3.4 cents to $1.7694/gal.