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Forecast Heat Lifts Physical NatGas, But Futures Add Only A Penny

Weekend and Monday physical natural gas was higher on average, but the market was highly split. Titanic weather-driven gains in the East overwhelmed losses in the Rockies, California, and the Midcontinent. The NGI National Spot Gas Average rose 7 cents to $2.72.

Futures trading was far less exciting, with the spot July contract rising 1.1 cents to $3.039 and August climbing nine-tenths of a cent to $3.071. July crude oil rose 19 cents to $45.83/bbl.

By Monday high temperatures along the Eastern Seaboard are expected to soar. Forecaster Wunderground.com predicted the Friday high in Boston of 76 degrees would climb to 78 but reach a sweltering 92 by Monday, 18 degrees above its seasonal norm. New York City's Friday peak of 82 was expected to reach 85 Saturday and a searing 95 Monday, 14 degrees above normal. Philadelphia's max Friday of 84 was anticipated to reach 86 Saturday and 94 Monday, 13 degrees above normal.

Gas at the Algonquin Citygate jumped 62 cents to $2.76 and deliveries to Iroquois Waddington soared 82 cents to $2.95. Packages on Tennessee Zone 6 200 L vaulted 73 cents to $2.85.

Other market points were mostly lower. Gas at the Chicago Citygate rose 2 cents to $2.84 and gas at the Henry Hub advanced 4 cents to $2.98. Gas on El Paso Permian fell 12 cents to $2.51 and deliveries to Panhandle Eastern gave up 6 cents to $2.58.

Parcels at Opal tumbled 12 cents to $2.51 and gas at the PG&E Citygate were quoted a nickel lower at $3.08.

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Bulls are likely viewing the recent rig report with quiet apprehension.

Oklahoma led the states in drilling rig additions during the week ended Friday, adding five units to end at 131 active, according to Baker Hughes Inc. (BHI). That's up sharply from the year-ago tally of 58 active rigs.

The Midcontinent state is home to the STACK (Sooner Trend of the Anadarko Basin, mostly in Canadian and Kingfisher counties), which was a standout in the Oklahoma pack during the week just ended, adding four rigs to end at 42 running. That's up from 16 rigs one year ago.

July futures managed to open a penny higher Friday morning at $3.04 as traders digested Thursday's positive market response to an otherwise bearish storage report and weather forecasts for next week continue hot.

Overnight weather models continued with a warm theme with cooling loads expected to be above average. "[Friday's] 11-15 day period forecast is warmer than yesterday's forecast over the West and adjacent portions of the central and southern US," said WSI Corp. in a morning report to clients.

"The Northeast is a touch cooler.” Continental United States population-weighted cooling degree days (CDD) “are up 1.5 for Days 11-14 and are now forecast to be 53.3 for the whole period, which are 10.9 above average.

"The case can be made for risks in either direction. The northern tier and East have a slight cooler risk, while the West and south central US have the potential to run a touch hotter."

Analysts see a firm market for the near term. "This market's ability to work higher in spite of a much larger than expected supply injection attests to a firm undertone that is being facilitated by some warmer temperature forecasts," said Jim Ritterbusch of Ritterbusch and Associates in a morning note to clients.

"Although the expected above normal temps appear limited mainly to the northeast quadrant, deviations from normal are beginning to appear sufficient to drive a renewed contraction in the supply overhang. And while yesterday's 12 Bcf expansion in the supply surplus is likely to be followed by another slight increase in the overhang with next week's EIA, this trend appears temporary.

 "Furthermore, warm weather views within heavily populated regions at this early stage of the CDD cycle tend to prompt an exaggerated price response. This show of support is likely sustainable at least for another 2-3 days given some expected hot Midwest temperatures that are likely to strengthen the cash basis in setting the stage for ultimate gain up into the 3.20-3.25 zone." 

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