A hotter-trending forecast over the weekend helped push natural gas futures higher in early trading Monday. The October Nymex futures contract had topped the $2.500/MMBtu mark as of around 8:30 a.m. ET, up 1.9 cents to $2.515.

The weather outlook over the weekend “jumped solidly hotter” by showing a stronger and longer lasting upper level ridge over the eastern half of the country this week and next, according to Bespoke Weather Services. This should result in “well above normal” cooling degree day totals east of the Rockies.

“The intensity of southern heat starts to wane this week, while increasing up into the Midwest and over into the Mid-Atlantic,” Bespoke said. “We do, climatology-wise, start picking up some minor” heating degree days further north “after mid-September, though they have little impact this early in the season.”

The forecaster said it expects prices in the spot market to be “the most important factor” for Monday’s trade.

“Our view has been that the higher wind and gradually lowering temperatures (albeit still well above normal) in the South could allow cash to weaken somewhat, with less hindrance on storage refills, but the hotter forecast makes that less certain, so we are in wait-and-see mode this morning,” Bespoke said.

Analysts at EBW Analytics Group similarly pointed to cash prices as a potential determining factor in whether the October contract can push higher Monday after “poking its head above $2.51” in early trading.

“In a market in which a short-squeeze has driven prices much higher than supply/demand fundamentals justify, it is difficult to predict when and where prices will top out,” the EBW analysts said. With expectations for robust storage injections over the next several weeks, “the remaining upside potential may be limited.”

Genscape Inc. analysts are looking for Lower 48 demand to remain “steady and relatively strong” over the next two weeks as much of the eastern half of the country experiences slightly above-normal temperatures.

The firm’s daily supply and demand modeling as of early Monday showed demand averaging 73.4 Bcf/d for the current work week, including a high of 75.8 Bcf/d around Thursday. Over the next two weeks, Genscape forecasts show demand averaging 72.4 Bcf/d, which would surpass year-ago totals by around 1.5 Bcf/d.

October crude oil futures were trading 47 cents higher at $56.99/bbl shortly after 8:30 a.m. ET, while October RBOB gasoline was down fractionally to $1.5732/gal.