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Futures Tumble Before, After AGA Data

Futures Tumble Before, After AGA Data

Without any impetus to break in either direction, natural gas futures continued to subsist on a steady diet of range-bound trading yesterday at the New York Mercantile Exchange. But in contrast to Tuesday's session, which featured the market closing near its high trade for the day, Wednesday's session was dominated by selling that ushered the prompt August contract down 3 cents to $2.146. Estimated volume was light, with only 44,985 contracts changing hands.

"Twice [Wednesday] morning speculative accounts tried to push the market through nearby support at $2.20, but they were unable to even match [Tuesday's] high," a New York broker said. Once the market could not make new highs, it was pressured lower, he continued.

Another source added that buyers were hesitant ahead of the release of weekly supply data, which has been the source of considerable market banter this week. "Storage estimates have been ratcheted down from earlier in the week. I heard people talking about 70 Bcf on Monday, but this afternoon 45s and 55s were being thrown around."

Last night the American Gas Association settled the dispute by saying that 59 Bcf was injected into underground storage facilities last week. And although that figure fell somewhere within the wide swath of expectations, it fell drastically short of last year's 93 Bcf build. Storage now stands at 2,161 Bcf, 17 Bcf less than 1998.

However, despite notching its first year-on-year deficit in 18 months, the futures market rumbled lower in last night's Access trading session. At 6 p.m. (Est) the August contract had slipped an additional 3.6 cents to $2.110.

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