July natural gas is called 2 cents higher Friday morning at $2.91 as near-term weather forecasts call for basically normal temperatures, and near-term traders mull bearish conditions for next week. Overnight oil markets inched higher.

MDA Weather Services in its morning six- to 10-day outlook said, “Forecast changes were related to low pressure tracking out of western Canada in the early stages and toward the Midwest, with temperatures adjusted warmer in the East at mid-period but cooler in the low’s wake late in the Midwest.

“Given model volatilities as it relates to this feature, confidence remains lower than usual for this lead time. In all, the forecast features near normal temperatures for most of the Eastern Half, with aboves focused in parts of the Interior West. While normal for the period, the East sees below normal temperatures early on and aboves on days 8-9.”

Traders are looking for a spot to go long. “We are keeping open a possible price drop to the $2.82 area while conceding that such a renewed decline will require some cooperation from the weather factor,” said Jim Ritterbusch of Ritterbusch and Associates in a morning report to clients. “Latest updates are generally indicating negligible change from about mid-week with much of the mid-continent now expecting normal temperatures later next week following a brief cooldown. This seemingly neutral temperature factor doesn’t appear capable of sustaining price gains to above the $3 mark and as a result, we see some further price consolidation today mainly within the boundaries of yesterday’s range.

“Looking ahead to next week, adjustments to the 1-2 week weather views will largely determine price action. While some support could be forthcoming from a further expected contraction of around 15 Bcf in the surplus against five year averages, the extended Fourth of July holiday weekend could provide a bearish offset. Overall, we are still sidelined in this market while we will be looking to probe the long side on a renewed pullback into the $2.84-2.87 zone in referencing August futures.”

Near-term analysts see the bulls on the defensive next week. “Modestly bearish headwinds entering the weekend and into next week,” said industry consultant Genscape Inc. “Production is ticking back up while demand projects to be stagnant to declining with temperate weather and the return of strong non-gas fired generation.

“On the demand side, burns look flat to declining while exports remain suppressed. Our estimate for [Friday’s] power burn is down to a 12-day low of 28.8 Bcf/d with more declines expected. We have burns dropping to as low as 26.8 Bcf/d by Tuesday, and not getting back above 30 Bcf/d until next Thursday.”

In overnight Globex trading August crude oil rose 12 cents to $42.86/bbl and August RBOB gasoline gained fractionally to $1.4275/gal.