Natural gas futures probed slightly higher early Wednesday as updated forecasts teased the prospect of heat building in the eastern part of the country later this month. The July Nymex contract was up 2.0 cents to $3.148/MMBtu at around 8:50 a.m. ET.

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As of early Wednesday the latest 15-day forecast from Bespoke Weather Services had shifted slightly hotter over the previous 24 hours. Most of the hotter change occurred after mid-June, with models showing “signs of re-heating the eastern U.S.” after June 20.

“We remain cooler for a few days next week and feel there are still cooler risks there, but the overall bias of the pattern remains to the hotter side, which will only be further confirmed if we indeed do turn hotter in the East again during the final third of June,” Bespoke said.

The latest forecast from Maxar’s Weather Desk showed near normal conditions in the South and East during the June 19-23 time frame. 

“The forecast trends warmer in the South during this period while retaining near normal coverage here and along the East Coast,” Maxar said.

In the six- to 10-day time frame, from Monday through June 18, Maxar made a “small hotter change” to its forecast for the Rockies, Midwest and Southeast. The forecaster made cooler revisions for the Northwest, with no major changes to the temperature outlook for the East.

“While the West is hot, a trough supplies below normal temperatures in the East around mid-period; the coolest day has highs only in the mid-70s in New York (normal low is 80s),” Maxar said.

According to Bespoke, the weather outlook remains “the most bullish factor we see” for the natural gas market.

“We still do not view the fundamentals side of the equation as worthy of these prices, barring a bullish surprise” from Thursday’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) storage report, Bespoke said. “…We still feel that if we sync up with fundamentals again, price risks from here are to the downside.”

Meanwhile, in terms of technicals, depending on whether prices break above or below certain thresholds, natural gas could see upside all the way to around $3.500 or drop back to $2.897-2.895, according to ICAP Technical Analysis analyst Brian LaRose.

“It all comes down to what breaks first,” LaRose said. “Bulls need to bust through $3.204 and $3.316 to activate the case for a continued advance. As for the bears, they need to force natural gas back below $3.000 to trigger the case for a deeper slide. Until resistance can be exceeded or support can be broken we are stuck in neutral territory.”

July crude oil futures were up 32 cents to $70.37/bbl at around 8:50 a.m. ET, while July RBOB gasoline was up about 1.2 cents to $2.2307/gal.