Both physical gas for the weekend and Monday as well as futures marched lower in Friday's trading.
Prices in the East and Northeast showed some stout advances but were unable to offset wider declines of a dime or more at points west of the Hudson River. The overall market fell 6 cents to $2.54, but Northeast points on average were higher by almost a dime.
Futures prices wobbled lower as traders had a new round of more mild weather forecasts in pivotal northern markets to deal with. At the close, August was down 4.0 cents to $2.776 and September had given up 4.2 cents to $2.775. September crude oil continued lower, falling 31 cents to $48.14/bbl.
Northeast points advanced, aided by a firm power environment. Intercontinental Exchange reported Monday on-peak power at the PJM West Hub rose $5.11 to $44.58/MWh, and peak power at the ISO New England's Massachusetts Hub gained $11.78 to $36.00/MWh.
Gas on Transco Zone 6 into New York City rose 17 cents to $1.67, but farther to the south gas on Transco Zone 6 non-NY North bound for southeastern-most Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey added 25 cents to $1.73.
At the Algonquin Citygate weekend and Monday packages changed hands at $1.39, up 5 cents, and gas on Tennessee Zone 6 200 L was quoted 18 cents higher at $1.61.
Gas in the Midwest fell a more representative 7 to 8 cents, and some marketers took advantage of the lower quotes. "We bought some gas for the weekend because we wanted to get ahead of the big heat next week," said a Michigan marketer. "We bought on Consumers at $2.92 and $2.915. It's better to be safe than sorry, and any gas we don't use we can put in storage."
In the words of one marketer, "it's better to be long and wrong than short and fired!"
Declines of close to a dime were dominant throughout the Great Lakes. Gas on Alliance and deliveries to the Chicago Citygate fell 7 cents to $2.85 and $2.86 respectively, while gas on Consumers shed 8 cents to $2.90. Packages on Michcon changed hands at $2.90, down 8 cents as well.
Losses of a dime were common throughout the Gulf. Gas at the Henry Hub shed 10 cents to $2.81, and deliveries to Katy were off 9 cents to $2.80. Three-day packages on Tennessee 500 L shed a dime as well to $2.79, and gas on Columbia Gulf Mainline was seen a dime lower as well at $2.77.
Although a much more warm and humid pattern appears to be in store for the southern Plains and Southeast next week, in its Friday morning six- to 10-day forecast WSI Corp. said, "[Friday's] forecast has trended several [degrees] cooler across the Great Lakes, whereas slightly cooler across the central and Northeastern U.S. when compared to yesterday. Forecast confidence falls to near-average standards as there's excellent agreement between the models regarding the heat-up over the West, but there are timing differences with the cool over the East.
"Raw model guidance are showing strong warmer risks across CAISO when compared to the AM forecast and ensemble MOS products. Cooler risks are in store for the northern Plains, Midwest and Great Lakes and Northeast under a series of cool air masses to impact the East."
Analysts see Thursday's decline as not offering any trading opportunities, at least not yet. "This market briefly saw a price advance yesterday into our suggested $2.95-3.00 sell zone immediately following release of the EIA storage report," said Jim Ritterbusch of Ritterbusch and Associates in a Friday morning note to clients. "From here, some additional price weakness would be expected, given the adjustments in the temperature forecasts that are now calling for cooler than normal patterns across the upper Midcontinent that extend across the first week of August. These mild trends, if realized, should accommodate some larger storage injections than we had been plugging in for the next two to three weeks.
"While we had been assuming supply builds similar to those seen yesterday, it now appears that an upswing into the 70-80 Bcf zone could be seen for a few weeks unless production slips more than expected. Nonetheless, we don't see either the commercial or speculative entities approaching the short side of the market aggressively at current levels. Despite yesterday's selloff that has extended through the overnight trade, the market is only about 4 cents away from the midpoint of our expected $2.65-3.00 trading range. As a consequence, we will caution against fresh short entry at current levels given risk-reward ratios that approximate one to one at best."