A large majority of the cash market saw little change in pricing Friday as prior-day screen support and forecasts of colder weather in some areas were largely counterbalanced by warming trends in other areas and the usual weekend decline of industrial demand.
Losses that ranged from 2-3 cents to nearly 20 cents moderately outweighed quotes that were flat to a little more than a dime higher. Most of the softness was concentrated in the Northeast, Rockies/Pacific Northwest/San Juan, California and Western Canada markets.
Monday's cash market will have positive guidance from futures again, but it will be meager after the May contract eked out an increase of only 1.9 cents Friday (see related story).
A minor contribution of heating load by the eastern South late last week was fleeting as the region was expected to be joined by the Midcontinent in seeing weekend highs in the 70s (and 80s in some parts of Texas). However, that may have resulted in a bit of cooling load that helped boost some South Texas and East Texas points. Although Florida Gas Transmission did not extend an Overage Alert Day (OAD) beyond Thursday, it told market-area customers that Florida weather would continue to be warm and they should be alert for the possibility of another OAD.
A storm moving out of the Rockies and through the central Plains was expected to bring wintry conditions to the Midwest during the weekend, although severe cold was not anticipated. Some snow showers were due to continue in parts of the Northeast, The Weather Channel said, but overall seasonally moderate temperatures were forecast to continue in the region.
The coldest weather of North America continued to be concentrated in the Rockies and Western Canada, but even Eastern Canada was predicted to experience freezing lows Saturday. And the desert Southwest was due for a rapid cooldown, with Phoenix expected to drop from Friday's high in the low 80s to the low 70s Saturday.
Kern River said linepack continued to be high throughout its system Friday, but the decline of about a nickel for prices into the pipe was typical of Rockies softness.
The National Weather Service expects below-normal temperatures during the latter half of the coming week in most of the West and in the East from the lower Northeast through southern Georgia westward through the Midcontinent and central Plains states. It looks for above-normal readings only in the southern half of Florida's peninsula.
The plunge in the number of drilling rigs seeking natural gas in the U.S. that has been prevalent in the last several months slowed greatly in the week ending April 3, according to the Baker Hughes Rotary Rig Count (http://intelligencepress.com/features/bakerhughes/). The tally dropped only by two to 808 that week, instead of the declines of 30-50 or so each week that had preceded it. The Gulf of Mexico count rose by two rigs, but that was more than offset by four quitting the search onshore. The latest Baker Hughes tally is 12% lower than a month earlier and 45% less than the year-ago level.
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