Bolstered by a strengthening weather-driven demand outlook, natural gas futures rebounded sharply in early trading Wednesday. The October Nymex contract had advanced 15.5 cents to $1.989/MMBtu at around 8:45 a.m. ET.

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The major weather models have now advertised net gains in projected demand for three consecutive days, Bespoke Weather Services said in its latest forecast early Wednesday.

“A strong upper level trough is projected to dive into the entire eastern half of the nation, with heat parking in the western states,” Bespoke said. “…This pattern would be much more bullish in about a month, as a chunk of the upcoming cooler weather makes its way into the South” where cooling demand is still common at this time of year.

However, it’s still “an impressive early shot of chill and is enough to place demand above normal next week on the national level.”

Looking at the overall fundamental picture, Bespoke said record storage levels remain “the main concern over the next few weeks, keeping the front end of the curve detached from winter-dated contracts, where the bullish fundamental picture is still intact.”

NGI’s model predicted a 71 Bcf injection for this week’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) storage report. The report, scheduled for 10:30 a.m. ET Thursday, covers the week ending Sept. 18.

As of early Wednesday, six estimates submitted to Bloomberg ranged from 71 Bcf to 82 Bcf, with a median of 77 Bcf.

Last year, EIA recorded a 97 Bcf build for the period, and the five-year average is an injection of 80 Bcf. Last week, EIA reported an 89 Bcf weekly build that surprised to the high side of expectations, exacerbating concerns over inventories bumping up against capacity as the injection season draws to a close.

“Tomorrow’s EIA print is expected to draw more interest than usual, as market participants gauge whether last week’s larger than normal print was a one-off anomaly or reflective of a looser market,” analysts at Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co. (TPH) said in a note to clients Wednesday. “We think it was more of a one-off and are looking for a build of 70 Bcf this week, which would align with our supply/demand balances.

“However, on a week/week basis the data shows a net tightening of around 1.4 Bcf/d, which suggests a 10 Bcf smaller build than last week, or about 79 Bcf,” the TPH team said. “If the build proves to be in the 80 Bcf range, we expect more pressure on the front end of the curve, as storage concerns in the South Central will continue to rise.”

From a technical standpoint, the next support targets for the October contract sit at the $1.713-1.700, $1.626 and $1.432 levels, according to ICAP Technical Analysis analyst Brian LaRose.

“As for November, we will be watching to see if bulls can prevent $2.496-2.465-2.429 from breaking,” LaRose said. “If they can, the door would be open for another violent snap back to the upside. If they cannot, we will have a green light to take aim at lower levels.”

November crude oil futures were up 7 cents to $39.87/bbl at around 8:45 a.m. ET, while October RBOB gasoline was up about 1.5 cents to $1.1790/gal.