Most Points Soften in Muted Post-Holiday Trading

Much of the North American market seemed to be joining the Canadians in still being on holiday Tuesday. In very subdued activity scattered points (mostly in the California/Pacific Northwest region) registered upticks, but most ranged from mildly softer to down as much as about $3.50 at the Chicago citygate.

"It's tough to do business" with so many people out of the office, a large aggregator said. Besides, he added, many deals done last Thursday or Friday were for flow through today.

Although the Midwest will remain under freezing conditions at least through today, moderating weather forecasts in the Midcontinent were responsible for a couple of OFOs being either already lifted or due for cancellation (see Transportation Notes). That resulted in some of Tuesday's larger declines occurring in the Midcontinent/Midwest, although Michigan citygates were on either side of flat.

Wellhead freeze-offs weren't much of an issue after all. A Houston-based marketer said there were none in his South Texas and East Texas trading areas. A Midwestern trader reported "a couple of freeze-off incidents, but they were no big deal. We lost a town of 500 people for a little while, but then got them right back up."

Though many utilities were taking off Tuesday, most had skeleton crews on duty in the gas supply departments, several traders said. One marketer commented, "I was looking for some intraday demand, but none came along. That meant the utilities did a good job of projecting their gas needs" on Thursday and/or Friday.

The Northeast will continue to see frigid weather this week, but any demand boost from that is being reduced by industrial shutdowns between the Christmas and New Year's holiday weekend, one source noted.

Bidweek business was even quieter than the swing market, "if that's possible," said a Texas trader. Nobody is interested yet in January fixed prices, he said; almost everything is associated with basis or indexes so far. Another trader said he was rolling over some evergreen contracts that end Dec. 31 since he hadn't gotten any notice that the counterparties wanted to cancel them. And a Northeast marketer expects to do little if any baseload trading, saying, "I'll hang on to my transport and use it in the [January] day market."

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