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Most Points Record Small Price Declines

Tuesday's smaller price gains than those a day earlier proved indicative of the market direction, as most points saw small losses Wednesday. Forecasts of modest retreats in peak temperatures in the South, and to a lesser extent in the Northeast, tended to squelch some of the extra cooling load from earlier in the week, and Tuesday's 0.1-cent decline by June futures was neutral regarding cash market guidance.

Quite a few scattered flat to less than a nickel higher locations evaded overall losses ranging from 2-3 cents to about 15 cents. Algonquin receipts constituted the only location to fall by more than a dime.

Futures will return to providing a bit of support for cash numbers after the June contract rebounded by 3.4 cents (see related story).

After highs in much of the South were approaching the 90-degree area Wednesday, slippages back into the mid 80s and even the 70s in some cases were common in the Thursday forecast. Some parts of the lower Northeast are also seeing slight cooling trends, although New England can generally expect to warm slightly from cool to merely mild.

Chilly remains the key description for the Midwest outlook, but even with lows sinking into the 40s Thursday, a substantial jump in heating load didn't seem to be in the cards. And outside of the Phoenix area continuing to get near 100, bearish moderate to slightly chilly weather dominates the West's outlook.

As expected, a low-pressure surface area in the central Atlantic quickly fizzled out, according to the National Hurricane Center.

An indication that air conditioning load in Florida is on the weak side was provided by Gulfstream Natural Gas, which said linepack was at the high end of its range of acceptable operating levels. Production-area numbers into Florida Gas Transmission were flat to down about a nickel.

Still relatively early in the injection season, Southern reported that as of last Thursday it had 37.8 Bcf, or 63% of total 60.0 Bcf, of working gas stashed away in its two storage fields in Louisiana and Mississippi. That was ahead of last year's May 20 level of 34.6 Bcf (58%) but lagging the May 21, 2009 inventory of 43.9 Bcf (73%).

IntercontinentalExchange (ICE) said Henry Hub quotes fell a little less than a penny, but its Hub volumes dropped from 740,400 MMBtu Tuesday to 595,100 MMBtu Wednesday. And the Chicago citygate, down nearly 2 cents, fell even further from 806,500 MMBtu to 602,600 MMBtu in ICE activity.

ICE reported June bidweek prices rising slightly Wednesday, likely in tandem with the small futures increase. Michigan citygates into MichCon and Consumers Energy were up 1-2 cents or so to nearly $4.58 and $4.57, respectively, the online trading operations said. Houston Ship Channel numbers showed a modestly larger gain of about 4 cents to $4.32, ICE said.

IAF Advisors analyst Kyle Cooper has one of the highest estimates in predicting a 101 Bcf storage addition for the week ending May 20.

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