Three-day weekend natural gas deals were like a hot-potato in Friday's trading that no one wanted to hold on to. A sharp turn to mild conditions by Monday sent prices plummeting with only a couple of points followed by NGI staying out of the loss column.
The NGI National Spot Gas Average tumbled 21 cents to $2.57, and many points in the Marcellus and Northeast along Transco and Tetco set new all-time lows. Futures traders were preoccupied with the October contract and whether it could climb back above $3 after getting pummeled Thursday following on-target inventory data. October did trade above $3, but at the end of the day October had eased 3.5 cents to $2.955 and November had dropped 4.8 cents to $3.013.
November crude oil joined the parade lower and fell a stout $1.84 to $44.48/bbl.
By Monday temperatures across the nation's midsection were forecast to be below normal. Forecaster Wunderground.com predicted that Chicago's Friday high of 79 degrees would slide to 73 Saturday and drop further to 69 by Monday. The normal high in the Windy City is 73. Dallas' Friday high of a sizzling 94 was predicted to fall to 92 Saturday but hit 78 on Monday, 7 degrees below normal.
Gas at the Chicago Citygates fell 11 cents to $2.95, and deliveries to the Henry Hub were quoted 10 cents lower as well to $3.04. Packages on El Paso Permian came in 7 cents lower at $2.83, and gas at the SoCal Citygate was flat at $3.05.
The real price carnage was reserved for Transco Zone 6 and Texas Eastern M-3, Delivery. Gas bound for New York City on Transco Zone 6 reached an all-time low of 77 cents, down 39 cents and well below the previous low of 88 cents reached March 11, 2016. Other Transco Zone 6 as well as Zone 5 points traded at historic lows as well, and Tetco M-3 Delivery took out its all-time low of 74 cents traded Dec. 22, 2015 when it reached 71 cents, down 45 cents from Thursday.
Marcellus points got hammered as well. Dominion South gas changed hands at 71 cents, down 43 cents, and gas on Tennessee Zn 4 Marcellus shed 40 cents to 67 cents. On Transco-Leidy Line weekend and Monday gas was quoted at 74 cents, down 41 cents.
A soft power environment didn't help either. Intercontinental Exchange reported that Monday power at the PJM West delivery point fell $7.29 to $33.42/MWh and Monday peak power at the Indiana Hub dropped $5.73 to $38.85/MWh.
Futures trading was more sanguine. "The market closed well at $2.955," said a New York floor trader. "At $2.955 the close is still good, and I think traders will pick it back up on Monday. On a pullback it should have traded down to $2.90 to $2.92, but even the low on the day is $2.933 so it set itself up to take another stab higher on Monday."
Top traders see a rangebound market. "[Thursday's] sizable 2.4% price decline in the face of a seemingly neutral EIA storage figure suggested some bearish adjustment to the short-term temperature views beyond next week," said Jim Ritterbusch of Ritterbusch and Associates in closing comments.
"The supply hike of 52 Bcf was appreciably below our expectation but the counterintuitive price decline tended to reinforce our view that chasing this week's price rally could prove hazardous. We were pushed to the sidelines earlier in the week at about current levels and, from here, we will expect some price consolidation largely within parameters of about $2.82-3.10."
Market technicians still see the uptrend intact as long as prices don't fall about another 15 cents. "While the bears were able to generate a reversal from the critical $3.039-3.085-3.147 zone they were not able to take out any meaningful support levels," said Brian LaRose, market technician at United ICAP in closing comments Thursday.
"To suggest a top is forming $2.882-2.830 will need to be broken. Only if the bears can make that happen will we have a case for a top being in place. And if the bears can not get the job done? Then the trend will remain up."
Gas buyers tasked with procuring supplies for power generation over the weekend across the
PJM footprint may have to be on their toes as weather conditions are expected to change and provide little in the way of wind generation to offset power purchases. "Fair, unseasonably warm and moderately humid conditions are expected across the majority of the power pool [Friday]," said forecaster WSI Corp. in a Friday morning report to clients.
"High temps will range in the upper 70s, 80s to near 90 in spots, [but] a 'back-door' cold front will push southward into the Mid Atlantic during the weekend. This may trigger a few showers, but more importantly usher a much cooler, more seasonable air-mass into the Mid Atlantic by Sunday and Monday. Light and variable wind generation is expected through the weekend. Output may occasionally peak between 1 and 2 GW. Wind gen will trend upward late into the weekend into early next week."