With the market still awaiting more clarity from the weather models on the extent of frigid temperatures expected later this month, natural gas futures were trading slightly higher early Wednesday. The February Nymex contract was up 1.7 cents to $2.179/MMBtu shortly after 8:30 a.m. ET.

Models have been going back and forth on the amount of cold expected to move into the Midwest and Northeast starting late next week, according to NatGasWeather.

“This was again true overnight as the data trended colder Tuesday only to flip back a little milder overnight,” the forecaster said. “No major changes, as after a quick cold shot across the Midwest and Northeast today, an overall rather bearish setup is still on track through Jan. 16.

“Cold air remains on track to release out of the Rockies and sweep across the Midwest and Northeast Jan. 17-20 for a bump in national demand,” NatGasWeather said. However, “the weather data is really struggling and inconsistent on how much Arctic air will ultimately arrive” during this period. “As such, expect changes in the days ahead” until models lock in on the pattern, “with the risk toward colder trends.”

Meanwhile, looking ahead to this week’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) storage report, Energy Aspects issued a preliminary estimate for a 45 Bcf withdrawal for the week ended Jan. 3. The size of the withdrawal will be limited by “a continuation of the holiday impact and even milder weather” during the period, according to the firm.

“Additionally, weakness in Mexican net trade, which has been strangled by infrastructure outages in addition to a seasonal decline over the holidays, is impacting cross-border readings,” Energy Aspects said.

Elsewhere on the exports front, liquefied natural gas (LNG) feed gas demand has been averaging 8.1 Bcf/d following progress on commissioning the second train at the Cameron LNG facility, according to Genscape Inc. calculations.

“Net pipeline deliveries to U.S. liquefaction facilities have hovered near 8.1 Bcf/d (8.6% of current U.S. production volumes) since the start of the new year,” Genscape analyst Allison Hurley said.

A little more than a week after Sempra Energy’s Dec. 23 announcement that it began producing the first LNG at Cameron Train 2, on Dec. 31 Genscape recorded a new peak single-day delivery to the facility at slightly under 1.2 Bcf/d, the analyst said.

“This maximum daily delivery to the facility was repeated on consecutive days that week, on Jan. 3 and 4,” Hurley said.

February crude oil futures were off 98 cents to $61.72/bbl shortly after 8:30 a.m. ET, while February RBOB gasoline was down about 2.0 cents to $1.7019/gal.