Natural gas futures hovered close to unchanged in early trading Wednesday as updated forecasts continued to withhold definitive signs of the start of summer heat. After trading both sides of even in the early morning hours, the June Nymex contract was up 0.6 cents to $2.961/MMBtu at around 8:45 a.m. ET.

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The weather outlook underwent a mix of changes overnight, according to Bespoke Weather Services. The firm removed 2.5 gas-weighted degree days from its projections for the next 15 days.

“Models are back to showing a little more warming after May 20, though not strong enough yet in the right places” to drive higher cooling degree days (CDD), Bespoke said. “Should this trend continue, we would see more CDD show up (not just absolute but versus normal) after day 15, but confidence is lower than average given the tendency for models to be biased too warm in the medium range lately.”

NatGasWeather similarly observed only small changes overnight in terms of degree day expectations.

The American and European models both “held a bearish U.S. pattern” for Friday through May 25 that would see “only localized heat” over southern parts of the country, NatGasWeather said. The American dataset “did tease heat trying to gain territory across the southern and eastern U.S. around May 27-28,” but this will need “more evidence” before it can be expected.

The upcoming pattern is especially bearish starting this weekend through next week, when population centers from the Midwest to the East will see comfortable temperatures, according to the firm.

“The southern U.S. becomes warm to very warm with highs of 80s to 90s,” NatGasWeather said. “However, the coverage and intensity of highs reaching the 90s over the southern U.S. still isn’t expected to be as widespread as needed to intimidate through May 26 and should result in several large weekly builds near or over 90 Bcf.”

Looking at other daily data points, Bespoke said production was down to 89 Bcf as of early Wednesday. Barring a revision this “would mark the lowest level in a few months, outside of the big drop during the Texas freeze event in February.” 

Still, the firm expressed skepticism that output would remain at those lower levels.

“Should production return higher as we suspect, we still believe the path is back toward $2.85 in the prompt month contract, barring a big bullish surprise” in Thursday’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) storage report, Bespoke said.

Estimates submitted to Bloomberg as of early Wednesday showed a median 73 Bcf injection expected from this week’s EIA report, which covers the week ended May 7. Predictions ranged from an injection of 68 Bcf up to 92 Bcf.

June crude oil futures were up 93 cents to $66.21/bbl at around 8:45 a.m. ET, while June RBOB gasoline was up about 1.2 cents to $2.1520/gal.