Continuing to ride higher as summer nears, natural gas futures approached the technically and psychologically significant $3/MMBtu mark in early trading Tuesday. The June Nymex contract was up 2.2 cents to $2.988 at around 8:45 a.m. ET.

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Overnight colder changes to the forecast increased demand expectations for this weekend into next week, according to NatGasWeather. However, the added heating degree days (HDD) also coincided with a loss of cooling degree days on “comfortable” temperatures expected over the South and Southeast, the firm said.

“While HDD are solidly above normal the next 10 days, this late in the heating season it won’t drive nearly as much demand compared to the core winter months,” NatGasWeather said. “…We continue to wait on more impressive, sustained heat to build over the U.S., and we expect it won’t occur until late May.”

The June contract could test resistance as early as today amid a “favorable technical setup,” according to analysts at EBW Analytics Group.

“While the natural gas rally has proven robust over the past month, technical resistance may impede the way higher,” the analysts said. “It could take multiple tries to overcome the $3.00 level, and further resistance is only pennies away.

“At the same time, this fundamentally led rally was initiated by strong late-summer and winter contracts that are likely to hold up the front of the strip,” the EBW analysts added. “With upside momentum potentially slowing and the downside limited, range-bound trading remains the most likely near-term scenario for the June contract.”

Meanwhile, looking ahead to Thursday’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) storage report, Energy Aspects issued a preliminary estimate for 58 Bcf injection for the week ended April 30. The firm characterized the recent run of EIA reports as a case of “storage whiplash.”

Last week’s reported 15 Bcf build — covering changes during the week ended April 23 — “was at odds with our model,” the firm said. Its model “would have pointed to an even lower figure” than the 7 Bcf estimate the firm published prior to the report “if gas-heating intensity remained as strong on stubbornly high HDD as it did” in the prior two reports.

Energy Aspects analysts questioned how much of last week’s storage miss derived from lower gas-heating intensity “despite the much higher-than-average HDD in the reference week” versus how much “could be attributed to a potential ‘true-up’ from the previous two reports.”

June crude oil futures were up 81 cents to $65.30/bbl at around 8:45 a.m. ET, while June RBOB gasoline was up about 3.4 cents to $2.1350/gal.