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Strong New England NatGas Can't Offset Broad Declines; October Futures Off A Penny

Weekend and Monday physical natural gas deliveries went begging in Friday's trading as buyers were reluctant to commit to three-day deals in light of easy spot gas purchases via cell phones and electronic devices.

Stout gains in New England were unable to overcome pervasive weakness in Texas, Louisiana, the Midcontinent, Midwest, Rockies and California. The NGI National Spot Gas Average fell 4 cents to $2.66.

Futures trading was held to a 3 cent range and at the close October had risen 1.3 cents to $2.959 and November had gained 1.4 cents to $3.021. November crude oil added 11 cents to $50.66/bbl.

Physical prices in New England were one of the few bright spots, posting double-digit gains for weekend packages as Monday power quotes made incremental power purchases viable. Intercontinental Exchange reported that Monday on-peak power at the ISO New England's Massachusetts Hub jumped $30.70 to $59.58/MWh.

Gas at the Algonquin Citygate vaulted 64 cents to $2.77 and deliveries to Iroquois Waddington were quoted up 19 cents to $2.94. Gas priced at Tennessee Zone 6 200 L jumped 51 cents to $2.47.

The National Weather Service in southeast Massachusetts reported that rapidly diminishing post tropical storm Jose southeast of Nantucket "will slowly drift back to the southwest the next few days. This will maintain strong winds, rain and rough seas [Friday], which then diminish. Clearing skies will move in from the west tonight and Saturday.

"Warmer weather arrives Sunday and Monday, before a backdoor front brings cooler weather and possibly a few showers by midweek."

Other locations saw mostly lower pricing. Gas on Tetco M-3 Delivery fell 13 cents to $1.40 and packages headed for New York City on Transco Zone 6 were up 2 cents to $3.01. Gas on Dominion South fell 18 cents to $1.31.

Packages at the Chicago Citygate were quoted 7 cents lower at $2.89 and gas at the Henry Hub shed 16 cents to $2.95. Gas on El Paso Permian changed hands 12 cents lower at $2.36 and parcels on Panhandle Eastern fell 8 cents to $2.53.

At Opal weekend and Monday gas came in 11 cents lower at $2.50 and Kern Delivery was seen 11 cents less at $2.57. Gas at the SoCal Citygate fell 18 cents to $2.81 and gas priced at the SoCal Border Average dropped 13 cents to $2.55.

Futures traders were unimpressed with the day's activities. "We are under $3 and it doesn't look too promising," said a New York floor trader. "We are just kind of stuck in this range where we have been stuck forever."

Analysts see a trading range as well. "[A]lthough the bulk of [Thursday's] 24 Bcf increase in the supply overhang will likely be negated with next week's Energy Information Administration data, this supply is currently being viewed as ample," said Jim Ritterbusch of Ritterbusch and Associates in comments Friday.

"Indications of a near record pace of production is also weighing on the market with yesterday's strong storage build providing reinforcement in this regard. But despite several bearish market considerations, we see further downside from yesterday's close limited to only about 6 cents just as we saw restricted upside possibilities above the 3.14 area.

"From here, we will look to trade this market off of this month's nearby futures price parameters of 2.88 to 3.16 as a longer term position type trade is apt to remain elusive. In the absence of what would appear to be favorable position type trades from either side of the market, option writing strategies designed to capture premium would be advised."

Drilling statistics were hardly music to the bulls ears. The U.S. rig count fell by one, but within that was a gain of four natural gas-directed drilling rigs. That was unable to offset declines in oil-directed drilling, according to data compiled by Baker Hughes Inc.

The Permian Basin had a good week, adding six rigs, but that wasn't enough to prevent the ongoing pullback in the U.S. rig count from continuing.

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