Natural gas futures were down sharply in early trading Monday as weather models over the weekend advertised a pattern that would deliver notably warmer-than-normal temperatures for early December. The December Nymex contract was down 25.2 cents to $4.813/MMBtu at around 8:45 a.m. ET.

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Compared to Friday’s outlook, the largest change in the temperature outlook occurred during the 11-15 day time frame, from Dec. 2-Dec. 6, according to Maxar’s Weather Desk.

“The change is a result of a deeper trough over the eastern Pacific, alongside waning of the North Atlantic block,” the firm said in its latest forecast. “This allows for a much warmer pattern for most of the U.S. and Canada, where belows are limited to the East Coast at the start of the period.”

The forecast showed “widespread” above and much above normal temperatures over the western and central parts of the Lower 48 during this time frame, with the warmer conditions expected to “shift eastward over the course of the period,” Maxar added.

NatGasWeather similarly highlighted warmer trends for the Dec. 1-7 time frame, when “almost the entire U.S.” is expected to see temperatures of around 10-30 degrees above normal.

“The focus this week is likely to turn to how long the coming warmer than normal early December U.S. pattern lasts, because the further into December it takes for blue weather maps to return, the more pressure it puts on bulls to reduce risk,” NatGasWeather said. 

EBW Analytics Group analysts viewed the mild temperature outlook as the key driver of price action early Monday, noting that the prospect of continued weakness in weather-driven demand eases the supply fears that had helped drive up prices ahead of the winter heating season.

“The warming outlook deals another blow to bulls hoping for frigid weather to support Nymex risk premiums as the threat to winter supply adequacy continues to slip away,” the EBW analysts said.

Still, liquefied natural gas demand remained near record highs in the latest estimate early Monday, while production was “continuing to edge lower off early-month highs,” according to the firm.

“Options expiration and contract rollover are likely to soon become the central price movers as traders scramble for advantageous positioning — inducing incremental volatility over the next week,” the EBW analysts said. “By early to mid December, however — assuming weather forecasts hold — natural gas is likely to trade notably lower.”

January Nymex crude oil futures were trading 3 cents higher at $75.97 at around 8:45 a.m. ET.