July natural gas is set to open a penny higher Thursday morning at $2.39 as traders study estimates of a government storage report showing a return to more normal injection patterns. Overnight oil markets rose.

Weather forecasts changed only nominally. Commodity Weather Group in its Thursday morning report said, “The main change [Thursday] morning compared to yesterday morning seems to be a slower advance of cooler weather into the East next week that adds some warmth to the front the six-10 day and end of the one to five day.

“We also see slightly warmer South and West changes, including hotter heat for Portland this weekend (now touching 100 F). The combination of warmer one to five and six-10 day changes nationally add enough demand to offset some cooler shifting in the 11-15 day for the Midwest and then East. The models seem to only temporarily highlight some stronger southern warmth attempts before beginning to shift the heat ridge focus back toward the Southwest more.”

Although forecasts call for warm temperatures to start in the West, Midwest and eastern markets are expected to see above-normal cooling requirements near term. For the week ended June 4 the National Weather Service (NWS) predicts that New England will see 13 cooling degree days (CDD), or 8 above normal, and the Mid-Atlantic states of Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey will have 23 CDDs, or 10 more than than average. The greater Midwest from Ohio to Wisconsin is expected to see 36 CDDs, or 14 more than the norm.

It looks like the regime of sub-standard weekly additions to natural gas storage are about to come to an end. Last week, the Energy Information Administration reported 71 Bcf was injected, well below the five-year pace of 97 Bcf. This week looks different. Last year at this time, a stout 126 Bcf was added, and the five-year average currently stands at 98 Bcf.

Tim Evans of Citi Futures Perspective is on the high side of estimates with 96 Bcf, and he expects the year-on-five year surplus to drop from its current 769 Bcf to 732 Bcf by June 17. “[T]his fundamental price trend tends to limit the downside for prices and often translates into higher prices over the intermediate term, just as the higher lows registered last week and Tuesday’s price rally tend to confirm.”

Industry consultant Bentek Energy’s flow model is toward the low end of the spectrum with an 82 Bcf estimate. IAF Advisors also comes in with an 82 Bcf estimate, and a Reuters poll of 18 traders and analysts showed an average 85 Bcf with a range of 72 to 96 Bcf.

In overnight Globex trading July crude oil gained 2 cents to $49.03/bbl and July RBOB gasoline added a 2 cents to $1.6331/gal.