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Strong Cash Outdistances Firm Futures; September Gains Nearly 4 Cents

Gas for delivery Tuesday was broadly higher in Monday trading as forecasts called for warm temperatures across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.

New England and the Mid-Atlantic posted double-digit gains, and quotes of a nickel to a dime higher were seen in the Gulf Coast, Midcontinent and Rockies. A few points slid into the red, notably California, as electric loads and power prices eased. Overall, the market was higher by 6 cents. Futures couldn't keep up with the stout gains in the cash market. September added 3.6 cents to $3.834, and October rose 3.7 cents to $3.859. September crude oil rose 41 cents to $98.29/bbl.

Forecaster Wunderground.com predicted that Tuesday's maximum temperatures across the Eastern Seaboard would surge well above normal. New York City's Monday high of 86 degrees was expected to rise to 89 Tuesday before retreating back to 86 on Wednesday. The normal high in New York City is 84. Philadelphia's Monday peak of 84 was seen reaching 89 Tuesday before sliding to 85 Wednesday. The normal early August high in Philadelphia is 83. Washington, DC, was forecast to have its 87 degree high Monday lift to 91 Tuesday and ease to 90 by Wednesday. The normal high in Washington, DC is 88.

Joe Bastardi, meteorologist at WeatherBELL Analytics, in his Monday morning 20-day forecast said he is looking for just such a continuation of transient weather patterns to continue. The ECMWF Ensemble (European) is the model of choice, and he expects a "warmer look in Texas than GFS [Global Forecast System] ensembles, but no widespread above-normal pattern by mid-month as was rumored late last week in some circles."

The National Weather Service in Baltimore and Washington said "weak high pressure will remain over the middle-Atlantic region through Tuesday. A weak cold front will pass through the area Wednesday...with high pressure building in for late in the week through the upcoming weekend."

Quotes at the Algonquin Citygates jumped 45 cents to $2.81, and deliveries to Iroquois Waddington were seen 52 cents higher at $3.88. Gas on Millennium added 24 cents to $2.37.

Gas bound for New York City came in 67 cents higher at $2.84, and deliveries on Tetco M-3 added 57 cents to $2.74.

Parcels traded on Dominion South gained 28 cents to $2.27, and on Columbia Gas TCO gas changed hands at $3.80, up 6 cents.

Gas at California locations for the most part failed to participate in the day's rally as power demand Tuesday was forecast to ease, and next-day peak power prices retreated. The California Independent System Operator forecast that Tuesday's peak load would ease to 36,590 MW, down from Monday's peak of 38,978 MW.

IntercontinentalExchange reported that peak next-day power at SP-15 fell $6.09 to $50.19/MWh, and peak Tuesday power at NP-15 shed $7.10 to $51.00/MWh.

Gas at Malin rose 2 cents to $3.86, and Tuesday parcels at the PG&E Citygates eased 2 cents to $4.48. At the SoCal Citygates, gas was seen at $4.45, down two cents, and at the SoCal Border next-day deliveries came in flat at $4.17. Gas on El Paso S Mainline was up a penny at $4.31.

Marcellus and Gulf points posted gains. Deliveries to Katy added 2 cents to $3.79, and gas at the Houston Ship Channel was quoted at $3.80, up two cents. Henry deliveries rose 4 cents to $3.79, and gas on Tennessee 500 L gained 8 cents to $3.79. Gas on Transco Zone 3 rose by 5 cents to $3.78.

On Transco Leidy Tuesday deliveries surged 48 cents to $2.08, and packages on Tennessee Zone 4 Marcellus gained 30 cents to $1.97.

Bastardi is studying the longer-range development of El Nino in the form of "parallels to ENSO events of 1986 and 2009 [being] examined; [they] would suggest very close match to our August outlook, but Texas is a big problem overall. [The] West is much cooler and wetter this week."

WeatherBELL for the next two weeks forecasts a national accumulation of 56.5 cooling degree days (CDD), more than last year's 39.7 CDD and about in line with a 30-year average of 54.6 CDD.

Futures traders are looking lower. "Some people I have talked to think the market will trade down to $3.50 in the next three to four weeks, and maybe we'll set a bottom in the $3.40 to $3.50 area," said a New York floor trader. "I expect the market to trade from 10 cents higher to 10 cents lower over the next couple of days until the [storage] number comes out."

Market technicians are studying whether current price action is indicating a pause in an ongoing downtrend or a seasonal low. Walter Zimmermann of United ICAP said "seasonal lows in natgas generally exhibit more volatility than the recent price action, [and] a seasonal low is typically marked by one final punch lower that yields a quick ricochet higher.

"There was nothing like that at the recent $3.724 low, [but] there is now bullish RSI divergence on both daily and weekly charts. The ideal outcome for the bulls would be one more punch lower that ricochets higher from the $3.480 area, thus completing an ABC decline from the $6.493 high," he said in a weekly report.

Tom Saal, vice president at INTL FC Stone in Miami, said, "Buyers be ready. Historically, August and September have been annual low prices for Nymex Henry Hub spot contract." In his work with Market Profile he is looking for the market to test last week's value area at $3.835 to $3.749 then move on to test $4.159 to $4.037. "Eventually" he expects the market to test $4.422 to $4.326 and $4.739 to $4.635 as well.

The National Hurricane Center in its 5 p.m. EDT Monday report said Hurricane Bertha was moving away from Bermuda. It was about 560 miles west-southwest of Bermuda and was moving to the north at 18 mph. Winds had strengthened to 75 mph.

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