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Traders Balancing Stout Physical Market With Expected Triple-Digit Build

The expiring June futures contract is seen opening 2 cents higher Wednesday morning at $4.53 as traders mull strength in the cash market and position themselves before the release of Thursday's gas storage report. Overnight oil markets eased.

Traders are anticipating a strong finish by the June contract. "We still see a stout physical trade as capable of forcing June to a premium against July futures by day's end, and we would view such a development as a bullish portent," said Jim Ritterbusch of Ritterbusch and Associates in a Wednesday morning report to clients. "However, we feel that sustaining yesterday's upward price momentum much beyond the $4.55 level could be challenged by an unusually large storage injection of around 115 Bcf within tomorrow's EIA guidance.

"Our figure is at the high side of preliminary expectations that thus far range from about 105 to 115. And as has been the case following the recent EIA releases, an outsized downside price reaction could easily be seen. With this in mind, traders may consider taking some partial profits on a possible lift to above the $4.55 level today with the intention of re-establishing longs later on a price pullback to around $4.40 or lower."

Near-term weather-driven power and heating loads look to be minimal. The National Weather Service for the week ended May 31 forecasts below-normal accumulations of aggregate heating and cooling degree days for major metropolitan areas. New England is expected to see 32 heating degree days (HDD), or six fewer than normal, and the Mid-Atlantic is expected to warm to just 11 HDD, or 16 fewer than normal. The greater Midwest from Ohio to Wisconsin is forecast to feel just three HDD, or a hefty 29 fewer than normal.

Cooling degree data isn't all that impressive either. New England should experience just six CDD, or two more than normal, and the Mid-Atlantic is set to see 12 CDD, or one more than its normal tally. The Midwest should live through 37 CDD, or 18 more than normal. Combining HDD and CDD differentials, all regions come up short of normal. New England is four total degree days below normal and the Mid-Atlantic is 15 degrees off its normal pace. The Midwest is less than its normal degree-day accumulation by 11.

Tom Saal, vice president at INTL FC Stone, in his work with Market Profile calculates Tuesday's value area at $4.503 to $4.435, but he looks for the June contract to "trade a little higher" upon Wednesday's expiration. He also notes an area of minus development above the value area that could prove to be a trading objective. "Minus development is a pricing area 'to be filled in' to complete a normal (bell curve) distribution. Although the June 14 contract expires today, the July 14 contract has a similar pattern. Buyers be ready," he said in a Wednesday morning note to clients.

In overnight Globex trading July crude oil fell 19 cents to $103.92/bbl and July RBOB gasoline shed a half cent to $2.9759/gal.

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