With traders expected to jockey for position ahead of an extended Juneteenth holiday weekend that could introduce a pivotal shift in the summer temperature outlook, natural gas futures traded both sides of even early Friday. The July Nymex contract was up 1.8 cents to $7.482/MMBtu at around 8:50 a.m. ET.

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The July contract retreated from intraday highs around $8.00 Thursday. EBW Analytics Group senior analyst Eli Rubin pointed to “net bearish” revisions to Energy Information Administration (EIA) storage data and declines in the Dutch Title Transfer Facility benchmark as contributing to the reversal.

“Daily fundamental indicators appear relatively unchanged, with stable weather, consistent production readings” and steady liquefied natural gas (LNG) feed gas demand estimates, Rubin told clients early Friday. “Near-term price action will likely be driven by trader positioning in the continued aftermath of Freeport LNG’s outage, Tuesday’s precipitous declines and the coming holiday weekend.”

Depending on whether July forecasts extend “the current record heat pattern,” weather model trends over the long weekend could trigger a price swing in either direction by early next week, the analyst said.

Meanwhile, EIA on Thursday reported a 92 Bcf injection into U.S. gas stocks for the week ended June 10. The build lifted inventories to 2,095 Bcf, a 323 Bcf (minus 13.4%) deficit to the five-year average.

“On a weather-adjusted basis, we estimate the market was around 0.6 Bcf/d oversupplied, compared to 3 Bcf/d oversupplied the week before,” analysts at Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co. (TPH) said in a research note Friday.

Recent power generation demand has been strong, according to the firm’s estimates, hitting record seasonal highs and surpassing five-year average burns by about 9.5 Bcf/d in recent days.

“While coal has bounced alongside total power generation, which set new seasonal highs…limited availability has kept gas in good shape in the thermal stack, setting its own new seasonal highs for generation at 5.2 GWh,” the TPH analysts said.

Including this “robust power generation” as part of the balance equation, the firm’s preliminary modeling as of Friday was pointing toward a build of 70 Bcf for next week’s EIA report.

From a technical standpoint, bulls are closing out the week in a “reverse or else situation,” according to ICAP Technical Analysis.

“Needed to see the bulls send natural gas surging back above both the 50 and 22 day moving averages to have a case for a bottom,” ICAP analyst Brian LaRose said. “Thursday’s attempt ended in failure.”

It will be important to monitor whether bulls can “stage another assault on these moving averages,” according to LaRose. He pegged $6.770-6.660, $6.340 and $6.087-5.877 as the next downside targets should bulls fail in the task.