November natural gas is expected to open 4 cents lower Thursday morning at $2.88 as overnight weather data shows no clear evidence of sustained cold ahead of government inventory data showing a less than normal storage build. Overnight oil markets were mixed.

Weather forecasters see contradicting patterns. “While again emphasizing that this pattern is nowhere near as super-warm as last year in early November, we are still dealing with conflicting influences on the pattern that offer both colder and warmer risks to the forecasts,” said Matt Rogers, president of Commodity Weather Group in a morning report to clients.

“Our outlook today is fairly flat in the one-to-five day, slightly warmer South to West and cooler Midwest to East in the six-to-10 day, while (again) going warmer East and cooler West in the 11-15 day. A powerful high pressure ridge over the Alaska area into the six-to-10 day offers colder risks to our outlook (as seen on the American/Canadian modeling), but it starts shifting westward (into the Bering Sea) for the 11-15 day, which opens the door for colder risks in the West by that point (as the East re-warms).”

Bulls can find some solace in expected inventory build figures that look to be less than historical averages. Last year 74 Bcf were injected and the five-year pace stands at 75 Bcf. This time around the estimates are coming in lower, despite moderate temperatures last week.

ION Energy calculates a 63 Bcf build and Gelber and Associates is looking for a 68 Bcf injection. A Reuters survey of 24 traders and analysts revealed an average 65 Bcf with a range of +60 Bcf to +70 Bcf.

Andy Weissman of EBW Analytics is solidly in the bull camp. He says weather forecasts just turned sharply colder, with space heating demand newly projected to double from 50 gas-weighted heating degree days this week to 97 next week.

“The natural gas storage trajectory is now on pace for the second-lowest end-of-season level since 2009 — increasing market susceptibility to upside price shocks, and the supply/demand balance is projected to be much tighter in November and December than year-ago and five-year average balances — bolstering the likelihood of substantial upward price moves this winter.”

In overnight Globex trading December crude oil contract rose 6 cents to $52.24/bbl and December RBOB gasoline fell a penny to $1.6774/gal.