June natural gas is expected to open 3 cents higher Wednesday morning at $3.26 as traders focus on forecasts of higher 2017 prices more so than moderating weather outlooks. Overnight oil markets rose.

Overnight weather models edged ever so slightly warmer. “While a cooler pattern still persists over the Midwest and East through the short-range one- to five-day, changes edged slightly warmer [Wednesday],” said Matt Rogers, president of Commodity Weather Group, in a morning report to clients. “Also, warmer changes prevail next week with slightly faster/stronger re-warming.

“The six- to 10-day covers Monday-Friday next week now and the main ensembles agree on a middle U.S. warm look and a cool West. The East Coast is near normal, thanks to a cool start and warm finish to next week, but occasionally the operational models try for something faster/stronger into the East (like the overnight European operational).”

Market technicians see no reason to take any action. “[We are] still stuck in neutral,” said Brian LaRose, a market technician with United ICAP, in closing comments Tuesday. “Bulls need to bust through the $3.347 and $3.422 highs to confirm a spring-to-summer seasonal advance is still in progress. Bears need to take out $3.016-2.999-2.988 support to signal the spring-to-summer advance ended at $3.347 and a summer-to-fall decline has begun. Until the highs can be exceeded, support is broken, or the technicals tell us otherwise, we prefer to sit on our hands.”

Market bulls take heart. The bold, prescient Energy Information Administration (EIA) has your back. Henry Hub natural gas spot prices will average $3.17/MMBtu this year, and new export capabilities, combined with growing domestic consumption, will help drive prices even higher, to $3.43/MMBtu next year, according to the EIA’s latest Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO).

The 2017 price forecast is up 2.3% compared with EIA’s previous STEO, when it said it expected spot prices to average $3.10/MMBtu this year.

Traders are expecting a thin build when EIA announces storage figures Thursday. The Desk in its Early View survey found an average 53 Bcf injection, below last year and the five-year average. Last year 58 Bcf was injected and the five-year pace stands at 73 Bcf. The average was from a sample of 12 traders and analysts and the range on the survey was 48 to 61 Bcf.

In overnight Globex trading June crude oil rose 59 cents to $46.47/bbl and June RBOB gasoline gained fractionally to $1.5015/gal.