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Eastern Losses Offset Marcellus Gains; Futures Hold Their Ground

Physical trading for Wednesday followed a mixed path as forecasts of hot, humid weather at Northeast and East points were unable to prompt a continuation of the meteoric gains recorded Monday.

Next-day power prices rose, but spot gas prices from New England to the Mid-Atlantic slipped. Market points in Appalachia and the Marcellus gained, and producing region gains were more subdued with Gulf quotes anywhere from a penny to a nickel higher. Futures held their ground after a weak open. August eased 0.6 cent to $4.455, and September came in 0.4 cent lower at $4.436. August crude oil retreated 3 cents to $105.34/bbl.

New York and New England are forecast to feel like a clambake as temperatures and heat indexes are expected about 10 degrees above normal Wednesday. Forecaster Wunderground.com predicted that Tuesday's high temperature in Boston of 88 degrees along with a heat index of 93 would reach 90 on Wednesday and ease only to a maximum temperature of 89 on Thursday. The normal high in Boston this time of year is 80. New York City's 86 high temperature Tuesday and heat index of 90 was seen making it to 91 Wednesday before subsiding to 87 Thursday. The normal early July high in New York is 83. Washington, DC's high of 90 on Tuesday brought with it a heat index of 102, and the high Wednesday was expected to reach 97 before easing to 88 Thursday. The seasonal high in Washington, DC, is 88.

WSI Corp. of Andover, MA, forecast that the New York Independent System Operator would endure the "Warm and humid conditions...expected during the next couple of days. Highs will generally warm into the 80s to low 90s. Lows may range in the 60s to mid 70s. Humidity levels should remain high ahead of the cold front during the end of the week, but wet weather may knock temps down into the 70s and 80s. Seasonably warm but less humid conditions are expected during the weekend. Highs may range in the mid 70s to mid 80s."

Next-day power prices rose. IntercontinentalExchange reported that Wednesday peak power at the New England's ISO Massachusetts Hub rose $9.65 to $75.75/MWh. Next-day peak power at the New York Independent System Operators Zone A delivery point (western New York) added $6.00 to $75.00/MWh.

Wednesday gas at the Algonquin Citygates fell 25 cents to $4.64, and gas at Iroquois Waddington eased 7 cents to $4.63. Packages on Tennessee Zone 6 200 L slipped 33 cents to $4.56.

Gas headed for New York City on Transco Zone 6 slid 8 cents to $4.12, and Wednesday deliveries to Tetco M-3 were down 3 cents to $3.85.

Appalachian and Marcellus points were firm. Gas on Columbia Gas rose by 2 cents to $4.40, and on Dominion South next-day parcels were seen at $3.45, up a penny. Transco-Leidy Line gas changed hands at $3.21, up 7 cents, and deliveries on Tennessee Zone 4 Marcellus added 12 cents to $2.88.

West Coast locations were mixed and not quite able to continue the robust trend of higher prices noted in July bidweek trading. Wednesday deliveries to Malin fell 11 cents to $4.37, and gas at the PG&E Citygates recorded the highest NGI Spot Gas Price at $5.03, flat. SoCal Citygate packages were seen at $4.96, up 2 cents, and gas at the SoCal Border fell a penny to $4.72.

Traders saw Monday's gain a result of warmer weather forecasts and production data that didn't live up to expectations. "Although the source behind today's 1% price advance was difficult to pinpoint, the rally appeared to emanate from some shifts toward warmer temperature views," said Jim Ritterbusch of Ritterbusch and Associates in closing comments Monday to clients.

"Additionally, the monthly production report from the EIA [Energy Information Administration] may have provided some bullish impetus. Output in the Lower 48 during the month of April achieved a new record as expected, but the 1.3% upswing from March was smaller than many observers had expected given the exit from an exceptionally cold first quarter [see related story].

“Of late, production appears to be gaining on a year over year basis by around 4-5% while we still feel that increases against last year need to be elevated up to above 6% in order to keep injections strong enough to provide for an ample supply peak next fall that we estimate at about 3.5 Tcf. Looking out through the rest of this week, the physical trade could encounter some downside pressures from a weakening in industrial demand as many plants shut down for three days over the 4th [of July]."

In its 5 p.m. EDT report, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) reported that now-Tropical Storm Arthur was 85 miles east southeast of Cape Canaveral, FL, and was moving to the northwest at 2 mph. Maximum sustained winds were 50 mph, and NHC projected the storm would move up the East Coast, grazing North Carolina.

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