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Cash, Futures Inch Higher; November Adds a Penny

Next-day gas was mostly higher in Monday's trading, with producing regions adding a few pennies and market zones such as the Northeast tacking on double-digit advances. Stout gains in next-day power in the Northeast gave gas buyers an incentive to make incremental purchases although weather forecasts called for a return to milder temperatures.

The NGI National Spot Gas Average rose 3 cents to $2.35, but gains in the East were well over a dime. Futures meandered higher with the November contract adding 1.2 cents to $2.442 and December gaining 0.7 cent to $2.657. November crude oil fell $1.37 to $45.89/bbl.

The current environment of soft natural gas prices in Appalachia may not have the impact on capital spending and production it might otherwise have for some companies. According to figures from Genscape Inc., a large chunk of production for 2015 and 2016 has been hedged at favorable prices.

"At the end of 2Q2015, a select group of Appalachian producers representing about 7.2 Bcf/d of natural gas production have hedged about 76% of their 2Q2015 production for the remaining part of the year at a volume weighted average floor price of $3.98/MMBtu. These producers are already 60% hedged for 2016 at current production levels and at a volume weighted average floor price of $3.86/MMBtu.

"From the current production levels of about 19 Bcf/d of production from the Appalachia, we can assume that for the remaining 2015, about 5.5 Bcf/d or 28% of Appalachia production is hedged at a price higher than the forward curve." Genscape said for analytical purposes, hedging instruments included fixed price contracts, put options from collars, three-way collars, and independent put options.

The study included Antero Resources Corp., Cabot Oil & Gas Corp., Consol Energy Inc., Eclipse Resources Corp., EQT Corp., Gulfport Energy Corp., Magnum Hunter Resources Inc., Range Resources Corp., Rex Energy Corp., and Rice Energy Inc.

Other risk managers are keeping their powder dry and not initiating hedges or speculative positions, at least for the moment.

"Moderate temperatures and more than adequate supplies continue to weigh on the gas market," said Devo Capital President Mike DeVooght in weekly comments to clients.

"As we look forward to the heat season, which can often be supportive to the gas market, demand expectations have been ratcheted lower because of the El Nino. On a trade basis, we have been looking for an opportunity to get long the natural gas market but have not felt like we have yet reached the bottom of this move. We would start to be a light buyer if January reaches the $2.50 level."

DeVooght recommended both trading accounts and end-users establish long positions should the January contract reach $2.50. Producers are counseled to stand aside.

January futures settled Monday at $2.807.

Tuesday gas was quoted higher at major hubs although weather forecasts called for rebounding temperatures from Monday lows. AccuWeather.com predicted Monday's high in New York City of 51 would jump to 67 Tuesday before reaching 71 on Wednesday. The normal high in New York City in mid-October is 62. Boston's Monday peak of 48 was expected to rise to 64 Tuesday before easing to 58 Wednesday. The normal high is 60.

Gas at the Chicago Citygate added a penny to $2.43, and deliveries to the Henry Hub gained 4 cents to $2.42. Deliveries to El Paso Permian rose a nickel to $2.27, and gas at the SoCal Citygates added 5 cents as well to $2.69.

Next-day gas in the Northeast got a boost from double digit gains in next-day power. Intercontinental Exchange reported Tuesday peak power at the ISO New England's Massachusetts Hub jumped $14.53 to $54.21/MWh.

Deliveries to the Algonquin Citygate added 13 cents to $4.94, and gas at Iroquois, Waddington added a dime to $2.83. Gas on Iroquois Zone 2 jumped 24 cents to $3.09.

The Mid-Atlantic didn’t perform as well. Intercontinental Exchange reported next-day peak power at the PJM West terminal fell $11.01 to $37.41/MWh.

Gas on Texas Eastern M-3, Delivery rose 12 cents to $1.88, and gas headed for New York City on Transco Zone 6 shed 2 cents to $2.42.

Weather forecasts turned distinctly cooler over key energy markets. Monday’s “six-10 day period forecast is sharply cooler than Friday's forecast across the eastern two-thirds of the nation,” said WSI Corp. “The West is warmer.” In the continental United States, gas-weighted heating degree days “jumped 16.1 and are now at 55.7 for the period. Forecast confidence is considered average, at best, [Monday] due to reasonably good model agreement during the period. Technical differences and residual uncertainty with tropical activity are limiting factors.

"There interior West and northern U.S. have a slight risk to the warmer side. The Northeast has room for further downward revisions, mainly with minimum temps. Otherwise, the West Coast could run cooler late in the period."

Near-term the National Weather Service said to expect "mainly dry conditions from the lower Mississippi valley to the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic states. High pressure currently centered over the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic states is expected to shift offshore -- allowing southerly winds to bring warmer temperatures back into the region."

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