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Prices Stage Modest Retreat; Storage Report Bearish

Prices Stage Modest Retreat; Storage Report Bearish

Lacking any influence from weather or a flat screen, cash prices ranged from flat to down about a nickel Wednesday. Nearly all declines were by smaller amounts than the increases that had preceded them Tuesday. In one marketer's view, "Apparently prices went back down to compensate for Tuesday's unsupported rise. There's no weather and no [pipeline capacity] restrictions."

Calling it another one of 1999's many quiet trading days so far, a large aggregator thought cash was still pretty strong "relative to where people think it should be fundamentally."

Coming too late to affect day trading, AGA's report of 87 Bcf in storage withdrawals last week was considered moderately bearish after expectations in the 100 Bcf area.

A Gulf Coast producer wasn't sure why, but Tennessee's 500 Leg was surprisingly strong. "People would call and ask us what we were offering, and we'd sell it. Then we'd boost our [asking] price by a penny, and more people would call and buy that up." He reported four deals rising steadily in penny increments from $1.72 to $1.75.

Somewhat similarly, a marketer saw Transco Zone 6-NYC prices creep higher from $2.02 to $2.06 in 2-cent jumps.

Northwest quotes were nearly even in the high $1.40s for both Sumas and domestic gas after the domestic product fell about a nickel while Sumas was flat to off a penny. However, a marketer expects Sumas to get softer relative to Rockies prices after Northwest identified a mechanical problem with its Sumas Unit #8 turbine Wednesday afternoon that required immediate repairs. The unit will be out of service for eight to 10 days, Northwest said; meanwhile Sumas/Sipi capacity is restricted to 1,020,000 dth/d. No FT cuts are expected, but lower-priority volumes will be cut, the pipeline said.

A marketer usually active in the Southern California border market had no quotes to report, saying she was hampered by Kern River constraints due to inspections this week at the Muddy Creek, Fillmore and Goodsprings stations.

In new basis talk for April Wednesday, a producer reported a uniform minus 6 for ANR Southeast and Zones 0 and 1 of Tennessee. Columbia Gulf-onshore was minus 2.5-2.75 and NGPL-Louisiana was minus 5-5.25, he said. The producer pegged Houston Ship Channel at minus 0.5 to flat, while a buyer said all her Ship Channel offers were at flat basis. Basis was getting tighter Tuesday, the producer said, but he saw no change Wednesday.

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