Declining production estimates and indications of stronger heat toward the middle of the month in the latest forecasts helped send natural gas futures sharply higher in early trading Monday. The July Nymex contract was up 46.0 cents to $8.983/MMBtu at around 8:45 a.m. ET.

NGI Morning Natural Gas Price & Markets Coverage

The July contract was testing the psychologically significant $9 mark in early trading, boosted by domestic production levels that were “stumbling” in the latest estimates and forecasts showing “intensifying heat” by the middle of the month, according to EBW Analytics Group.

“Building heat in mid-June — especially in Texas — may also be awakening fears of another blistering hot summer,” EBW analyst Eli Rubin told clients. “Although a potential recovery in dry gas supply could induce a retest...