Stronger demand expectations from weather models helped spark a rally for natural gas futures in early trading Wednesday. The expiring November Nymex contract was up 17.3 cents to $6.055/MMBtu at around 8:50 a.m. ET. December was trading at $6.169, up 16.6 cents.

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The latest model runs as of early Wednesday increased demand expectations for the 15-day projection period, especially for late next week, according to Bespoke Weather Services. 

The higher demand comes as “the eastern U.S. trough diving underneath the blocking feature in Northern Canada has trended stronger,” Bespoke said. “In the wake of this feature, however, there has been a trend to weaken the block, resulting in a pattern out at day 15 that still looks less threatening in terms of cold potential…We do believe the pattern signals offer evidence to lean back warmer into the middle of November, but confidence is still on the low side, for now.”

Coming off a 61.8-cent front month rally to open the week, forecasts will likely need to show colder temperatures stretching deeper into November to sustain prices at current levels, according to the firm.

Should forecasts trend warmer as projections move into the middle of next month, “there would definitely be increasing downside risks to prices once clear of November expiration, as the supply/demand balance remains quite weak in our data,” Bespoke said. “Obviously, if we are wrong and the blocking/colder regime hangs on longer, we can continue moving higher, perhaps significantly, so caution is a necessity.”

Looking ahead to Thursday’s U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) storage report, a Bloomberg survey as of early Wednesday showed a median estimate for an 88 Bcf injection, with responses ranging from 77 Bcf up to 94 Bcf. That would compare with a 62 Bcf five-year average build and a year-earlier injection of 32 Bcf.

Energy Aspects issued a preliminary estimate for a 79 Bcf injection for the week ended Oct. 22. The firm estimated a 4.2 Bcf/d week/week decline in the injection rate on rising heating demand, offsetting a 2.7 Bcf/d week/week decrease in power burn. Production for the period dropped an estimated 0.3 Bcf/d on maintenance in Appalachia and the Permian Basin, according to the firm.

Following last week’s reported 92 Bcf injection, Energy Aspects said it revised its expected end-October carryout higher to 3.61 Tcf, a result of weather-driven demand weakness in October and “small month/month increases” in supply from Lower 48 production and net imports from Canada versus projections.

Even a scenario that sees “muted draws into November” will not “deflect from the risk that a cold winter would pose significant deliverability risks and lead to price spikes,” Energy Aspects said. “We have maintained that there is limited supply response that can readily ease the call on inventories in the event of a cold snap in the U.S.”

December crude oil futures were off $1.15 to $83.50/bbl at around 8:50 a.m. ET.