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Physical NatGas Slumps, But October Futures Expire On A Firm Note

Physical natural gas for Thursday delivery declined in Wednesday trading as gains in Texas and Louisiana were unable to overcome weakness in the Midwest, Midcontinent, Rockies, and double and triple-digit declines in the Northeast. The NGI National Spot Gas Average was down 3 cents to $2.62.

October futures expired on a strong note, but traders ascribed much of the strength to short covering rather than any new interest in holding long positions. At the close October had risen 5.6 cents to $2.974 and November had risen 6.1 cents to $3.061. November crude oil added 26 cents to $52.14/bbl.

Forecasts of plummeting temperatures in New England were enough to engineer dollar-plus losses. Wunderground.com predicted the high Wednesday in Boston of 85 degrees would drop to 74 Thursday and fall another 10 degrees Friday to 64, 4 degrees below normal. Philadelphia's Wednesday max of 88 was seen dropping to 76 Thursday and 72 by Friday, 2 degrees below normal.

Next-day gas at the Algonquin Citygate swan-dived $1.06 to $1.97, and gas bound for New York City on Transco Zone 6 was quoted 16 cents lower at $2.78. Parcels on Tetco M-3 Delivery added 8 cents to $1.52 and gas on Dominion South came in 11 cents lower at $1.19.

The National Weather Service in southeast Massachusetts said, "A cold front will cross the region late tonight and Thursday accompanied by scattered showers, especially near Cape Cod and the islands where a period of heavy rain is possible. Behind the front much cooler and less humid air overspreads the region Thursday from west to east.

"Dry, much cooler and less humid weather prevails Friday and into the weekend, with the exception Friday night into Saturday when a fast moving low pressure system may bring a period of scattered showers to the region."

Other market centers showed minimal change. Gas at the Chicago Citygate fell 3 cents to $2.85, and deliveries to the Henry Hub changed hands flat at $2.95. Gas on El Paso Permian came in a penny higher at $2.46 and gas priced at Northern Natural Demarcation fell 6 cents to $2.74.

Kern River was quoted at $2.48, down 4 cents and Kern Delivery was unchanged at $2.65. Gas at the PG&E Citygate was seen at $3.19, up 3 cents and gas at the SoCal Border Average shed 2 cents to $2.63.

Market technicians following Elliott Wave and Retracement see the bulls slowly losing their grip on the market, if they ever had it to begin with. The bearish argument, however, needs a lot of work. "Bears have two levels to break if they are going to revive the case for another round of fresh lows," said Brian LaRose, analyst with United ICAP in closing comments Tuesday.

He said the market had to breach $2.88 and $2.75, and if these levels are taken out "we will have no choice but to dust off the case for a visit to the 2.500 neighborhood. As long as the bulls can prevent the November contract from slipping beneath these levels bulls still have a shot at salvaging the case for a bottom."

Overnight weather models turned still warmer. "Warmer trends continue for the first half of October with additional warmer changes today for the Midwest, East, and South in the six- to 10-day range while the West drifts a bit cooler yet," said Matt Rogers, president of Commodity Weather Group in a morning report to clients.

"There is still some trickiness on the East Coast for next week as the top European ensemble pattern analogs match the American/Canadian idea of a weaker cool wedge along the immediate coast that could hold the cities closer to normal. But those same analogs are still warmer than our outlook for the Midwest to provide more than enough demand offset."

Thursday's storage report looks to reverse the recent trend of long-term supply surplus increases. Last year 49 Bcf were injected and the five-year pace stands at a plump 84 Bcf. Houston-based ION Energy is looking for an injection of 60 Bcf and Wells Fargo calculates a 70 Bcf build. A Reuters survey of 24 industry cognoscenti revealed an average 66 Bcf with a range of plus 59 Bcf to plus 73 Bcf.

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