Hotter-trending overnight forecasts and a tighter balance outlook helped lift natural gas futures several cents in early Wednesday trading. The September Nymex contract was up 4.4 cents to $2.181/MMBtu shortly after 8:30 a.m. ET.

Forecasts shifted hotter overall heading into Wednesday’s trading, with the models “no longer showing nearly as much cooling” moving into the eastern half of the Lower 48 late next week, according to Bespoke Weather Services, which tallied a “notable jump” in forecast gas-weighted degree days (GWDD) based on the latest data.

“We still believe anomalous heat can continue as we move near and just beyond mid-August, with a rather persistent blocking signal favoring hotter risks across the southern half of the nation, likely giving regions such as Texas their hottest weather of the summer in the current medium-range time frame,” including highs climbing to near or just above triple digits on the hottest days, the forecaster said.

Meanwhile, balances also strengthened in the latest data, according to Bespoke.

Power burns are “seeing more high-side revisions in today’s data, climbing to their highest absolute level yet yesterday, despite lower GWDDs versus the heat we saw a couple of weeks ago,” Bespoke said. “We expect strength to continue the rest of this week given a lower wind pattern in place...the totality of the data still leads us to believe there is little reason to move lower, pending cash prices” and this week’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) storage report.

NatGasWeather said it continues to see the potential for a hotter pattern to reach the eastern United States around Aug. 12-15. Overall, however, even after the hotter trends in the overnight data the pattern still isn’t hot enough to impress and retains a bearish bias, according to the forecaster.

“To our view, even if the data is a touch hotter, it’s still not a solid bullish setup since weekly storage builds are still likely to print larger than normal, allowing deficits to further improve,” NatGasWeather said. “For today’s trade, $2.20 remains resistance on September futures, while $2.10-2.11 is support.”

After recent EIA storage reports broke from a long-running trend of above-average builds, this week’s injection number could move back into the above-normal range, based on estimates.

Energy Aspects issued a preliminary estimate for EIA to report a 55 Bcf injection for the period ended July 26.

“A 2 Bcf/d week/week decline in gas power burn is the prime driver behind the increase in the pace of injections, followed by a 1 Bcf/d week/week recovery in production,” the firm said.

Intercontinental Exchange EIA Financial Weekly Index futures settled Tuesday at 60 Bcf for this week’s report.

Last year EIA recorded a 31 Bcf injection for the period, and the five-year average build is 37 Bcf.

September crude oil futures were trading 59 cents higher at $58.64/bbl shortly after 8:30 a.m. ET, while August RBOB gasoline was up fractionally to $1.9029/gal.