A return of snow-bearing colder weather in the Rockies caused points there to spike by as much as $1.30 Monday and pushed some regional top-end prices above $6. Milder conditions elsewhere resulted in a mixed market that was mostly close to flat and in which losses moderately exceeded gains.

Non-Rockies points tended to range from about 15 cents lower to 15 cents or so higher. In most cases price movement was limited to single digits and flat quotes were common.

Besides generally moderate weather in most of the U.S., Monday's prices also had negative guidance from an 11.1-cent drop in May futures on the previous Friday. However, the May contract, which begins the three-day countdown to settlement on Tuesday, will provide support for Tuesday's physical market with its 18.1-cent gain Monday. The natural gas contract, after initial weakness, rode the coattails of a spiking petroleum futures market in which worries about Nigerian exports increased following a controversial weekend presidential election.

The market is currently reflecting the economics of a true shoulder month. It's in an "in-between" stage where outside the Rockies most heating load has faded away, but with temperatures in the South peaking in the vicinity of 80 degrees, it's too early for any substantial amount of power generation demand to meet air conditioning load to develop.

The Rockies storm will be moving on toward the Plains Tuesday, leaving behind what The Weather Channel (TWC) called a "significant accumulation of snow" in the foothills of Colorado, Wyoming and northern New Mexico before the system winds down Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. Regional lows in the 30s are forecast for Tuesday. Heating load in the upper West will get a bit of reinforcement when a cold front arrives in the Northwest Tuesday and then moves into the northern Rockies Wednesday.

Meanwhile, spring is living up to its mild reputation in the rest of the nation as the April-May transition approaches. A cold front is due Tuesday in the Northeast, but it is expected to take temperatures only back to the 50s and 60s, TWC said.

A Texas-based trader thought the Nymex gain would be enough to spur greater strength in the cash market Tuesday.

The trader said she was trying to get some bidweek business going Monday, but was talking more to buyers early on than suppliers. Usually it's the other way around, she added, "but I don't place any importance on that [reversal of usual pattern]." So far she was doing a lot of talking but little actual May trading, she said, "but I'm determined to make at least one May deal before I go home today."

Not all indexed deals for May are seeing a premium, as a couple of sources had reported last week (see Daily GPI, April 23; April 19), the trader continued. She was seeing deals get done on ICE for TGT Zone 1 at index minus 0.75 cent. CenterPoint was trading at the same discount, she said (CenterPoint was being offered at index flat but that wasn't getting any bids). Waha was bid at index minus 1.5 cents and offered flat, "so I would expect that to trade at index minus something," she said. However, she also saw an NGPL-TexOk package going at index plus 0.75 cent.

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