After trading lower for most of the day, October natural gas futures — in its first day as the front month — climbed higher in the afternoon to close at $5.234, up 4.5 cents from Friday’s close.

At first glance, October appeared to be content to follow September’s path last week, which was decidedly lower. At 10:10 a.m. (EDT), the prompt month traded at $5.12, notching the low for the day. However, the contract immediately bounced higher, which it did another three times through the afternoon when approaching that trading level.

With futures unable to get below the $5.12 line Monday after repeated attempts, there is some talk in the market as to whether a bottom has been reached. Chiming in on the natural gas futures market Monday morning, Craig Coberly of GSC Energy said that if futures on Monday were able to close above the $5.548-5.588 level, then there would be a “high probability” that the decline is complete.

While October futures didn’t come close, the rebound might be telling.

Coberly said an earlier warning of the trend changing would be a close above the $5.26-5.34 level, which futures almost pulled off Monday. “Initial support is still in the $5.13-5.20 range,” he added.

While most predictions have Hurricane Frances missing the Gulf of Mexico, the slim chance that it does take that course could have traders a little concerned.

Weather 2000’s latest update called the Category 3 hurricane “powerful and dangerous,” noting that it should not be ignored or underestimated. “Despite future uncertainty in Frances’ strength, speed and path curvature, a U.S. hurricane strike looks to be almost guaranteed next weekend,” Weather 2000 said.

The New York City-based forcasting firm also added that the Gulf is not safe just yet. “Hurricane Andrew, simply as an example of trajectory, demonstrated how a storm in Frances’ vicinity, eventually reaching above 25°N Latitude could still be a major Gulf threat, so with Frances currently still below 20°N, nothing should be ruled out for several more days yet.”

According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC) at 5 p.m. (AST), Hurricane Frances is now located about 220 miles east-northeast of the Northern Leeward Islands. It is currently moving west at 14 mph, which is expected to continue over the next 24 hours.

If it continues its current path, the storm is expected to pass north of the Northern Leeward Islands late Monday night, early Tuesday morning. “Reports from a NOAA hurricane hunter plane indicate that the maximum sustained winds have increased to near 125 mph,” said the NHC.

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