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NatGas Cash Stumbles, Futures Inch Higher; September Adds 2 Cents

Next-day physical natural gas stumbled lower in Tuesday trading as gains in Appalachia and California were unable to offset flat pricing in the Northeast and soft pricing in Texas, Louisiana, the Midcontinent and Midwest. The NGI National Spot Gas Average fell 3 cents to $2.64.

Transmission constraints helped lift Appalachia prices, and futures found a way to grind higher following Monday's tumultuous drop. At the close September had added 2.5 cents to $2.819 and October was up 2.1 cents to $2.855. September crude oil shed $1.01 to $49.16/bbl.

Marcellus points were strong as pipeline restrictions came into play. Texas Eastern reported limited availability of gas from its M1 and M2 market zones. Gas on Dominion South rose 9 cents to $1.94 and deliveries to Tennessee Zone 4 Marcellus gained 12 cents to $1.90. Gas on Transco Leidy rose 10 cents to $1.96.

"[Texas Eastern] has restricted interruptible and secondary out of path nominations that exceed entitlements sourced either in the M1-24-inch, M2-24-inch, M2-30-inch north of Wheelersburg Compressor Station (Wheelersburg) or in M3 for delivery south of Wheelersburg. No increases for receipt nominations sourced either in the M1-24-inch, M2-24-inch, M2-30-inch north of Wheelersburg or in M3 for delivery south of Wheelersburg will be accepted," the company said on its website.

Elsewhere prices were mixed. Gas on Tetco M-3 Delivery rose 14 cents to $2.05 and gas bound for New York City on Transco Zone 6 rose 2 cents to $2.70. Deliveries to the Chicago Citygate shed 6 cents to $2.72 and packages at the Henry Hub lost 9 cents to $2.75.

Packages on Transwestern San Juan were quoted 6 cents lower at $2.58 and gas priced at the NGPL Midcontinent Pool shed 7 cents to $2.54. Kern River were seen at $2.58, down 9 cents but Kern Delivery changed hands at $3.18, up 6 cents.

Gas at the PG&E Citygate shed 5 cents to $3.20 and gas priced at the SoCal Citygate added a penny to $3.51.

Weather forecasters across key eastern markets see load-killing rain more so than warm temperatures. "A system is forecast to push southward through the Midwest and Northeast during the middle and latter portion of the week, bringing the return of showers and locally drenching thunderstorms," AccuWeather.com meteorologist Kyle Elliott said.

"The shift in the weather pattern could lead to one or more days of wet weather in Chicago; Indianapolis; Detroit; Cincinnati and Cleveland, Ohio; Erie and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Syracuse, New York, from Wednesday to Friday."

September natural gas opened a penny higher Tuesday morning at $2.80 as traders saw only minimal changes to the temperature forecasts and mulled an ongoing storage surplus contraction.

Traders are still grappling with how to factor in the latest cooler revisions to the temperature outlooks. "No significant changes are noted in the past 24 hours," said Matt Rogers of Commodity Weather Group in a morning report to clients. "The six- to 10-day is a bit cooler Midwest, but slightly hotter across the South and Pacific Northwest again. The 11-15 looks more mixed overall, but still no major heat concerns for the eastern two-thirds of the U.S. with slightly cooler East Coast changes and slightly hotter Southwest adjustments.

"The big picture view of a mid-continent cool pattern, Western hot weather optimized to the north, and a seasonal/mixed East Coast prevail again. Changes are slightly cooler in the short-term for the mid-continent while slightly hotter for the coasts. The Pacific Northwest still aims for very hot weather the balance of this week with an all-time record tie still favored for Portland on Thursday (107)."

Near-term the National Weather Service (NWS) is forecasting somewhat above-normal cooling requirements. For the week ended Aug. 5, NWS is predicting New England will experience 59 cooling degree days (CDD) or 15 over its seasonal norm and the Mid-Atlantic should see 67 CDD or 9 greater than normal. The greater Midwest from Ohio to Wisconsin is expected to see 48 CDD or 8 fewer than its seasonal average.

Analysts see Monday's price action as having created significant chart damage and admit that "shifts in the short term temperature views continue to provide primary price impetus and until the expected broad based cooldown that includes appreciably below normal temps across a chunk of the nation's midsection are diminished, fresh lows would appear likely," said Jim Ritterbusch of Ritterbusch and Associates in a morning note to clients.

"We viewed yesterday's price drop to below the $2.80 level as suggestive of additional price declines to around $2.65 by week's end if the weekly EIA (Energy Information Administration) storage report fails to offer price support. We feel that a supply build of less than 20 Bcf may be required to jump start a price rebound back to around last week's high of almost $3.00. And although we expect the supply surplus against five-year averages to drop to around 90 Bcf on Thursday, the bullish dynamic of surplus contraction has been easily overshadowed by unusually cool temperature expectations across key consuming regions of the U.S. into about the middle of this new month."

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