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Most of Market Rises; Northeast Keeps Falling

Most points were up by double-digit amounts Monday due to new or continuing bouts of cold weather, the previous Friday's futures gain of 27 cents and the return of industrial load from weekend hiatus. Northeast citygates comprised the conspicuous exceptions to overall firmness; although regional temperatures were still due to be below normal for mid-winter Tuesday, they would be up a few degrees from Monday, according to The Weather Channel.

The majority gains were remarkably consistent across geographic market areas. They ranged from a couple of pennies to about 70 cents, but only a couple were less than 17 cents or so. Northeast locations were barely higher to down about 85 cents. Despite recording one of the day's biggest losses, last week's high-flying Transco Zone 6-New York City remained the only point averaging in quadruple digits at more than $11.50.

Midwest and Plains states were awaiting the arrival of a new arctic air mass Tuesday that would continue to limit Chicago-area temperatures to the teens. Despite its falling prices, the Northeast will still be freezing for the most part.

Most of the South's chill will be concentrated at its eastern end, where a freeze warning was posted for early Tuesday in northern Florida and southern Georgia. From the western end of the South through the desert Southwest will be somewhat moderate for late January. However, the northern sections of the West will be seeing some severe cold, with highs in the teens forecast for the northern Rockies.

Tuesday's market will not have the support of prior-day futures strength as Monday's did. After starting the day moderately firmer, the February contract expired Monday with a loss of 25.8 cents to $6.917.

By virtue of Northwest-domestic soaring about half a dollar while Sumas rose only a penny, the Sumas premium took a big cut from 66 cents Friday to less than 20 cents Monday. Westcoast Station 2 was flat as the pipeline, which had been experiencing low linepack last week, reverted to normal imbalance tolerances Monday due to rising linepack (see Transportation Notes).

Although he considered the weather fairly moderate in the Calgary area because of being above freezing, a producer there said the colder market areas of the East were giving people an excellent opportunity to work off their storage account volumes. With very big withdrawals expected for at least two more weeks and possibly beyond, he said he could easily see total volumes in storage ending the heating season around 1.6 Tcf "or maybe lower," which is considerably less than what many analysts were expecting prior to January turning cold.

The producer said his company finished February baseload business last Thursday. Actually there wasn't that much monthly gas to sell, he added, since much of the company's producer is tied up in term contracts.

Although February futures turned lower, bidweek numbers were up, a Texas-based marketer said. For example, he said, the Chicago citygate was trading in the $7.10 area Monday, up from the mid $6.90s Friday.

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