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NatGas Cash, Futures Gain on Forecast Warmth; Futures Up 7 Cents

Physical natural gas for Tuesday delivery gained ground in Monday's trading as only a few points in South Texas fell into the loss column. Aided by a strong screen, most other points added anywhere from a nickel to a dime. The NGI National Spot Gas Average added 4 cents to $2.12, and some points along the Eastern Seaboard posted double-digit advances.

Futures rose initially as tropical weather impacted the eastern Gulf of Mexico and traded at new highs for the advance that began in March. At the close July was up 6.8 cents to $2.466, and August was higher by 6.1 cents to $2.537. July crude oil gained $1.07 to $49.69/bbl.

Traders saw hefty advances at New England and Mid-Atlantic points as next-day temperatures were forecast at stout differentials to seasonal norms. Forecaster Wunderground.com said the Monday high in Boston of 82 degrees would retreat Tuesday to 79 and to 70 by Wednesday. The seasonal high in Boston is 73. New York City's 84 on Monday was seen holding Tuesday before skidding to 70 on Wednesday. The normal high is 77.

Temperatures in the Midwest were seen a little cooler. Chicago's high on Monday of 83 was expected to drop to 66 Tuesday before rising to 69 on Wednesday. The normal high in the Windy City this time of year is 77.

Gas at the Algonquin Citygate gained 21 cents to $2.24, and gas at Iroquois, Waddington was unchanged at a lofty $2.27. Deliveries to Tenn Zone 6 200L rose by 15 cents to $2.20.

In the Mid-Atlantic, packages at Texas Eastern M-3, Delivery rose by 8 cents to $1.68, and gas bound for New York City on Transco Zone 6 jumped 24 cents to $1.89.

Forecasters are calling for warmth next week.

"The six-to-10 day period forecast features above average warmth across much of the central and southern U.S.," said WSI Corp. in Monday morning report. "The West and Northeast are likely to range near to slightly cooler than average." Monday’s forecast “is warmer than Friday's forecast over the Rockies, Plains and Midwest, but the West is cooler.” Continental U.S. population-weighted cooling degree days “are up 0.3 to 46.9 for the period."

Near-term warmth is expected to keep power loads elevated as well.

"This week is showing a shift in the weather pattern as the Northeast cools off some while the West goes from scorching hot to closer to average across several of the states," said EnergyGPS in a morning note to clients. "The middle portion of the country starts to warm up to where MISO and ERCOT load is projected to rise. From a net load perspective, MISO is showing the biggest net increase week/week as it goes from the 75 GW mark up to 95 GW by the end of the week. ERCOT is shifting up as well. with its net load jumping up near 40 GW” on Monday.

The National Hurricane Center on Monday in its 5 p.m. EDT report projected Tropical Storm Colin would slice through Central Florida on a northeast path out to the Atlantic Ocean. It was located 190 miles west northwest of Tampa, FL and heading north northeast at 23 mph. Maximum sustained winds were 50 mph.

Last week's 22.9-cent gain by the July contract has caught the attention of risk managers, and with the 12-month strip close to $3.00, selling forward is looking attractive.

"The spot market, for the first time in quite some time, showed relative strength compared to the deferreds," said DEVO Capital Management President Mike DeVooght in a weekend note to clients. "This strength was most likely caused by warmer temperatures, short covering and selling in the deferreds, now that the forward curve is flirting with the $3.00 level, a level that hedgers are selling to sell.

"We have been anticipating some type of short covering rally, [and] at this time we view the current rally as short covering, rather than a major shift in the fundamentals. For the gas market, we are fast approaching levels that we feel represent attractive levels for producers to start to establish forward sales."

Picking a top “is always difficult, therefore, we will use [an options strategy of ] collars rather than fixed price at this time," DeVooght said. "Work to execute a $2.70/$3.50 collar (buy puts and sell calls) at flat or a 2.75/$3.75 collar at a 7-cent debit."

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