With forecasts teasing the prospect of hotter temperatures arriving by early June, natural gas futures continued to climb in early trading Wednesday. Coming off a 34.8-cent gain in the previous session, the June Nymex contract was up 19.9 cents to $8.503/MMBtu at around 8:50 a.m. ET. July was up 20.0 cents to $8.594.

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Updated forecasting as of early Wednesday showed only a minor net change in projected gas-weighted degree days, which continued to track above-normal overall for the 15-day period, according to Bespoke Weather Services.

The firm characterized the weather outlook as bullish, considering “models are growing more adamant about the return of stronger heat as we end the month and head into at least the start of June.” A “new trough into the West” during this time frame would allow “hotter downstream ridging to develop in the eastern half of the nation again.”

Maxar’s Weather Desk similarly forecast a pattern in the 11-15 day period (May 28-June 1) that would result in widespread above-normal temperatures for the Lower 48.

The pattern for late May into early June supports “continued rounds of cool and unsettled conditions in the Northwest,” the forecaster said. “Warmer themes are downstream, with above-normal temperatures being in the Southwest and from the Plains to the East Coast.

“…Since yesterday, the forecast trended warmer in the Rockies and Midwest; although, cooler revisions in Texas are tied to the wetter projections from the favored Euro and Canadian models.”

While price gains were comparatively modest in the early morning hours Wednesday, the prospect of heat returning by the end of the month was keeping the outlook bullish for natural gas, according to Bespoke.

“On the fundamentals side, production remains down around 95 Bcf/d in our early cycle data,” while liquefied natural gas export volumes were “rising notably” in the latest estimates, the firm said. “…We still expect price action to remain rather jumpy, but this setup still makes us believe that odds favor new highs in prices over the next few weeks.”

Meanwhile, from a technical standpoint, ICAP Technical Analysis pegged $8.620 as a critical upside target for natural gas.

“On a decisive close above $8.620, the minimum implied upside target becomes the $9.790-10.30-10.740 cluster,” ICAP analyst Walter Zimmermann told clients. “Even if natural gas does manage to retreat by $8.620, all I expect is a bull market correction.”