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Weak East Tugs NatGas Cash Lower; Futures Recoup Most of Early Losses

Next-day physical gas traded lower Tuesday as a combination of moderating temperature outlooks and soft next-day power prices double-teamed any chance of a market advance.

The NGI National Spot Gas Average shed 10 cents to $2.09, but eastern points dropped nearly a quarter. Only a few points traded higher, and outside the Northeast most points were a nickel to a dime lower. After a week start to the day's session, futures managed to minimize earlier losses of as much as 8 cents, and at the close December finished 1.0 cents lower at $2.200 and January was off 1.9 cents to $2.324. January crude oil added $1.12 to $42.87/bbl.

Multi-dollar declines were seen at eastern points as temperatures by Thanksgiving were forecast to be nearly 10 degrees above normal. AccuWeather.com predicted that Boston's Tuesday high of 43 degrees would rise to 46 by Wednesday and reach 56 by Thursday, 8 degrees above normal. New York City was forecast to see its 47 high on Tuesday reach 50 by Wednesday and shoot to 59 on Thursday. The seasonal high in the Big Apple is 50.

Next-day deliveries to the Algonquin Citygate tumbled $2.25 to $2.24, and gas on Iroquois, Waddington shed 9 cents to $2.28. Deliveries to Tennessee Zone 6 200 L fell $1.69 to $2.54.

In the Mid-Atlantic, double-digit declines were more the rule. Gas on Texas Eastern M-3, Delivery fell 13 cents to $1.59, and gas bound for New York City on Transco Zone 6 shed 26 cents to $2.01.

Next-day power quotes also took a dive. Intercontinental Exchange reported that on-peak power deliverable to ISO New England's Massachusetts Hub fell $9.35 to $28.90/MWh, and power at the PJM West terminal gave up $6.52 to $28.94/MWh. Power at New York ISO's Zone A (western New York) delivery point fell $7.08 to $37.00/MWh.

A Houston pipeline veteran said there were "no surprises" and they were moving gas like they normally do. As far as December bidweek, he said people were doing nothing out of the ordinary. Marketers were looking at the weather forecasts, calculating the degree-days, figuring their load, and buying what they need. "These people aren't paid to take risks," he said.

Marcellus points were also soft. Gas on Dominion South shed 16 cents to $1.47, and gas on Tennessee Zn 4 Marcellus was lower by a nickel to $1.40. Deliveries to Transco-Leidy Line were quoted 11 cents lower at $1.43.

Overnight model runs revealed a shift to warmer temperatures in more deferred forecasts. WSI Corp. in its Tuesday morning report said, "Large warmer changes have been made to the 11-15 day period forecast across most of the CONUS. These changes have resulted in a -6.8 GWHDD reduction for the CONUS to 111.8. Forecast confidence is considered slightly above average standards due to very good agreement with the models regarding the large-scale pattern, although there will be timing differences with cut off low pressure over the South.

"Colder risks are in place across the Southern tier, with warmer risks over the Northern tier of the nation under a classic El Nino-type pattern."

Currently, traders are standing aside the market waiting for an opportunity to sell. "As the shoulder period winds down, this market will become increasingly sensitive to the daily updates to the one- to two-week weather views in the process of boosting volatility," said Jim Ritterbusch of Ritterbusch and Associates in closing comments to clients Monday. "But while conceding to a new and lower trading range that was forced by Friday's gap down into new low territory, we are still having difficulty building a case for sub $2 futures pricing especially with the upcoming rollover to the much higher priced January contract.

"December futures expire on Wednesday following an early release of the EIA storage report. We will be looking for a slight withdrawal of 2 Bcf that would compare with the five-year average decline of about 36 Bcf. By and large, we are still sidelined as risk/reward ratios appear unfavorable at current price levels. And although our preferred rally to the $2.60 level per the January contract may prove to be out of reach, we will await an advance of at least 15-20 cents from current levels before re-establishing a short position. Regardless, this remains a market that should be worked strictly from the short side."

Tom Saal, vice president at FC Stone Latin America LLC, in his work with Market Profile expects the market to test Monday's value area at $2.180 to $2.148 and then test $2.371 to $2.321.

Traders will be looking for a nominal build deep into November with Wednesday's Energy Information Administration storage report for the week ending Nov. 20. Last year, 141 Bcf was withdrawn, and the five-year pace stands at a 36 Bcf pull. IAF Advisors calculates at 10 Bcf increase and ICAP Energy is looking for a build of 5 Bcf.

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