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Cash Gains, But Futures Slump Further

The warm weather switch got turned off for Tuesday and next-day gas prices rose as forecasts in major energy markets called for temperatures Tuesday as much as 15 degrees lower.

Gains of as much as $1 at eastern points along with strength in the Great Lakes, Midcontinent and California easily outdid slumping quotes in the Gulf Coast. Overall, the market was 12 cents higher. Futures traders weren't buying into the notion of cold weather, at least for any extended period of time and November continued lower, posting yet another new low for the move before settling at $3.561, down 6.2 cents. December shed 6.1 cents to $3.637 and December crude oil fell a penny to $81.00/bbl.

The Midwest was expected to see sharply lower temperatures Tuesday and Wednesday. AccuWeather.com reported that the high in Minneapolis Monday of 67 would sink to 50 on Tuesday and 49 on Wednesday. The seasonal high in Minneapolis is 52. Chicago's pleasant 73 high Monday was seen dropping to 58 Tuesday and falling further to 51 on Wednesday. The normal high in the Windy City this time of year is 58. Indianapolis' Monday max of 78 was predicted to fall to 65 Tuesday and 56 on Wednesday. The normal late-October high in Indianapolis is 61.

"After temperatures surge into the 70s on Monday afternoon in Chicago, big changes are in store later in the week," said Brian Thompson, AccuWeather.com meteorologist. "Following a pretty mild weekend, Monday will likely be the warmest day of the month so far as warm air surges into the area ahead of an approaching cold front. Much of Monday will turn out dry, but there will be some showers and even a thunderstorm late on Monday afternoon and Monday night as the front moves through. Meanwhile, a gusty wind will persist from Monday into Tuesday.

"Behind the front, much of the rest of the week will be dry with some sunshine. Temperatures, though, will be much lower than recent days. Highs will struggle to get much into the 50s on Wednesday and Thursday. By Friday and Saturday, afternoon temperatures will mostly be stuck in the 40s," he said.

The cooler temperature outlook, however, does not seem to resonate with heating requirements in the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic nor New England. The National Weather Service for the week ended Nov. 1 forecast below-normal accumulations of heating degree days. The greater Midwest from Ohio to Wisconsin is forecast to experience 98 heating degree days (HDD), or 32 below normal. New England is expected to see 107 HDD, or 26 fewer than normal. The Mid-Atlantic is seen enduring 95 HDD, or 24 below its seasonal tally.

Gas for Tuesday delivery on Alliance rose 14 cents to $3.62, and gas at the Chicago Citygates gained 11 cents to $3.61. On Michcon, parcels for next-day delivery came in at $3.60, up 8 cents, and on Consumers gas changed hands at $3.62, up 10 cents. At the ANR Joliet Hub, next-day gas was quoted at $3.62, up 14 cents.

Stouter gains were seen in New England. At the Algonquin Citygates, next-day gas was seen at $2.70, up 42 cents, and Iroquois Waddington deliveries jumped $1.14 to $3.61. Gas on Tennessee Zone 6 200 L rose 33 cents to $2.74.

Gas destined for New York City on Transco Zone 6 rose 34 cents to $2.72, and packages on Tetco M-3 gained 17 cents to $2.04.

Outside of the Henry Hub a number of Gulf points failed to participate in the day's gains. Tennessee 500 L fell 3 cents to $3.44, and Transco Zone 3 was quoted at $3.44, down 6 cents. Columbia Gulf Mainline changed hands at $3.43, down a penny, and ANR SE fell 4 cents to $3.42. At the Henry Hub Tuesday gas came in at $3.55, up a penny.

Power load forecasts and next-day power prices had a hard time correlating with the jump in next-day gas. ISO New England predicted Monday's peak load of 15,930 MW would ease Tuesday to 15,800 MW but rise to 15,870 MW Wednesday. The PJM Interconnection forecast peak load Monday of 31,700 MW would slide to 31,765 MW Tuesday and climb to 31,840 MW Wednesday.

At IntercontinentalExchange, next-day peak power at the ISO New England's Massachusetts Hub rose 86 cents to $33.64/MWh, and Tuesday peak power at the PJM West terminal fell 34 cents to $41.35/MWh.

Futures traders were looking at weather conditions a little further down the road. Forecasts are starting to turn a little cooler, but no sustained cold of any magnitude appears on the horizon. Commodity Weather Group in its Monday six- to 10-day forecast showed a ridge of above-normal temperatures extending from Montana and North Dakota to South Texas with below-normal temperatures confined to a ribbon along the East Coast stretching from New England to North Carolina.

"Over the weekend, the modeling converged better on a stronger cool push into the Midwest and East for the end of this week into the start of the six-10 day outlook," said Matt Rogers, president of the firm.

"The Midwest should see one to two days of much below normal temperatures with two to three days possible for the East Coast, too. But then the model consensus still favors another surge of warm ridging into the middle third of the U.S. by mid to late six-10 day that carries through the majority of the 11-15 day also as it spreads back to the East. The West looks more variable and leans a bit cooler for the 11-15. We continue to track cooling Alaskan heights, which buckles a warmer jet stream flow into the Lower 48 as the calendar moves into the second week of November. The orientation of the troughing is such that we do start to see some cold air supply building in northwestern Canada and Alaska, but no transport vehicle is yet seen."

Risk managers are adjusting their strategies in initiating long positions in the market. Mike DeVooght, president of DEVO Capital, in a weekly report to clients said, "It has been our thought that if the market breaks from current levels, the break should be viewed as a buying opportunity in the January and February contracts. However, because of the lack of strength in the market, we would initiate the buys with a collar (buying calls and selling puts), rather than fixed price. For producers, we will hope for a rally, to reestablish our short hedges that have expired. We will look to do so in the mid $4.00 range."

DeVooght currently advises end-users and trading accounts to hold long January $4.20 calls with a simultaneous sale of January $3.90 puts.

Tom Saal, vice president at INTL FC Stone in Miami, in his work with Market Profile said, "As the November '14 natural gas contract expires Wednesday, look for short-covering this week [testing (value areas)]." He cites last week's value area at $3.710-3.636 as a candidate and says "maybe" a test of $3.852-3.730 and $4.178-4.000. "[A] compressed March-April '15 spread (aka widow maker) is an efficient way to trade the winter seasonal weather," he said in a Monday morning note to clients.

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