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NatGas Cash, Futures Grind Lower As Supportive Weather Proves Elusive; November Retreats 2 Cents

Next-day natural gas continued its shoulder season slide in Tuesday trading as gains in New England couldn't counter broad declines in Louisiana, the Midcontinent and Midwest. The NGI National Spot Gas Average retreated 1 cent to $2.41.

Futures continued lower, and traders once recommending purchases are holding off on suggesting new purchases until technical factors improve. At the close November natural gas had eased 2.1 cents to $2.895 and December had slipped 2.1 cents also to $3.085. November crude oil fell 16 cents to $50.42/bbl.

Northeast prices firmed as traders had to navigate a series of transportation constraints. Algonquin Gas Transmission (AGT) said that it has restricted 100% of interruptible, secondary out of path, secondary in path and approximately 34% primary firm nominations sourced from points west of its Southeast Compressor Station (Southeast) for delivery east of Southeast. "No increases in nominations sourced west of Southeast for delivery east of Southeast, except for Primary Firm No-Notice nominations, will be accepted," the company said on its website.

AGT also reported restrictions west of its Oxford compressor station as well as the Mendon interconnect with Tennessee and the Lincoln interconnect with Tennessee.

Gas at the Algonquin Citygate rose 41 cents to $2.63 and deliveries to New York City via Transco Zone 6 added 57 cents to $2.44. Deliveries to Tennessee Zone 6 200 L added 20 cents to $2.48.

Elsewhere prices slid as heating load proved elusive. Packages on Tetco M-3 Delivery shed 35 cents to 92 cents and gas on Dominion South worked another 10 cents lower at 52 cents. Gas on Transco-Leidy Line was quoted 3 cents higher at 61 cents.

The National Weather Service reported for the week ended October 7 New England could expect 42 heating degree days (HDD) or 36 less than normal. New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania were forecast to see just 23 HDDs or 39 fewer than its normal tally, and the greater Midwest from Ohio to Wisconsin could expect a nominal 22 HDDs or 43 less than normal.

Gas at the Chicago Citygate shed 8 cents to $2.55 and deliveries to the Henry Hub skidded 9 cents to $2.72. Gas on El Paso Permian dropped 7 cents to $2.09. At Northern Natural Demarcation next-day deliveries were quoted at $2.51, unchanged.

Packages at Opal came in 8 cents lower at $2.36 parcels at Malin were seen 6 cents lower at $2.40. Deliveries to El Paso S Mainline changed hands at $2.45, down 23 cents, and gas at the SoCal Citygate was down a penny to $3.28.

SoCal Border Average, meanwhile, fell 16 cents to $2.45. SoCal Border Average has seen its negative differential to SoCal Citygate widen in the past two days amid an outage on SoCalGas Line 235-2.

The company notified shippers Monday that the line would "be out of service for an undetermined amount of time while SoCalGas investigates and makes repairs resulting from a force majeure incident." North Needles Sub Zone capacity will be at zero as a result of the outage, the company said.

Traders aren't recommending new long positions for the moment. "The market is maintaining a heavy feel with fresh multi-month lows in the November contract eked out in [Tuesday's] trade," said Jim Ritterbusch of Ritterbusch and Associates in closing comments. "Expected support at the $2.88 mark is holding for now but could be vulnerable to violation on Thursday when the [Energy Information Administration] release is more apt to prove bearish than bullish. Although we see the supply surplus narrowing by around 30 Bcf, an implied injection in the 60 Bcf region has likely been baked in.

"In the meantime, short-term temperature views that are now stretched out to about the 18th of this month remain skewed bearish with mild temps apt to keep supply builds much closer to normal than has recently been the case. Spread action has also been signaling an unusually weak spot market as most portions of the fall/winter curve have seen contangoes stretched into new wide territory this week. Overall, we have shifted to a bullish stance by advising longs within the 2.90-2.95 zone per nearby futures. But, we will caution against fresh purchases until some evidence of chart support develops amidst at least some suggestion of sustained cooling trends."

Weather forecasters see a modest incursion of cool air hitting the Northern Plains but "[Tuesday's] six- to 10-day forecast is warmer than yesterday's forecast across the southern and eastern U.S.," said WSI Corp. in its morning report to clients. "The western U.S. is cooler.” Continental United States population-weighted cooling degree days “are up 3 to 18.1, and” gas-weighted HDDs “are down 2.7 to 22.6, which are still 16.3 below average.

"The timing and details with the pending cool shot and a potential tropical disturbance could cause the forecast to waver in either direction, especially on a localized/regional basis," WSI said.

Gas buyers for electrical generation across the broad MISO footprint will have only modest amounts of renewables to offset near-term gas purchases. "Look for a highly unsettled pattern across the pool this week as a frontal boundary gradually pushes southward and a series of low pressure waves travel along it. The timing of the showers and storms will be the most difficult aspect of the forecast across any one region.

"As a front cuts across the pool, wind generation will markedly decrease the next few days with peaks of less than 3 GW Wednesday-Thursday. However, peaks in generation should increase to 5-8 GW for Thursday night-Saturday."

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