After tumbling lower for the third Monday in a row, natural gasfutures rebounded yesterday, as buyers were once again willing tosupport the market near the $5.70 level. The March contractreceived the biggest boost, shuffling 19.8 cents higher to finishat $6.019. Most of the gain was notched late in the session, as ashort-covering rally propelled prices by more than a dime higherafter 2:30 p.m. (ET).

For the vast majority of traders and market watchers polled byNGI Tuesday, the modest rebound was to be expected followingMonday’s near 40-cent collapse. Over the past couple weeks, themarket has settled into a neat little trading range bounded by$5.62 on the downside and by $6.97 on the upside. Each attempt topush the March contract outside of that range has been met witheither buying or selling in the opposite direction.

Looking ahead, Jerry Rafferty of New York-based GPR Inc.believes that until this range is breached, the smart money willcontinue to buy dips near support and sell rallies up toresistance. That said, he looks for a period of sidewaysconsolidation until the market can trade either beneath $5.62 orabove $7.00. “I would be a buyer between $5.62-75, risking down tobelow $5.62. On the upside, I would look to sell moves to $6.30,$6.50 and $7.00,” he advised.

Susannah Hardesty of Indiana-based Energy Research and Tradingagrees and recommends continuing to build length on a decline backto around $5.70 or if the American Gas Association releases a 95Bcf or greater withdrawal estimate this afternoon. Expectationsyesterday were centered on a 75- to 100 Bcf pull, down slightlyfrom the near-100 Bcf predictions circulating earlier in the week.Last year 158 Bcf was taken from the ground and the five-yearaverage draw is 117 Bcf.

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