On a day when a premature subtropical storm off the South Atlantic coast got a name three weeks before the official beginning of hurricane season, mostly softer cash prices were close to flat in virtually all cases Wednesday. Summer-like heat remains elusive outside of the desert Southwest, with highs in the 70s and 80s expected to prevail in almost all other areas Thursday.

The Weather Channel (TWC) reported that what began as a mid-latitude or extratropical low-pressure system had transitioned to a subtropical storm named Andrea. A tropical storm watch was posted from Altamaha Sound, GA, to Flagler Beach, FL. Little impact other than coastal showers is likely, however, as Andrea's center was expected to remain offshore through at least Thursday morning "and possibly for the remainder of its lifespan," TWC said.

Wednesday's cash trading had negative prior-day futures guidance, with the June contract dropping 14.2 cents Tuesday. But a couple of sources expected a screen rally of 8.3 cents to have a salutary effect on the cash market Thursday.

With so little volatility, a Texas-based marketer found trading activity "pretty boring." He thinks most or all points likely will rise Thursday about the same amount that June futures did Wednesday. He supported his prediction by notng that prices were rising about a nickel near the end of Wednesday's trading, which often is a good indicator of the direction of the following day's market.

The marketer related a couple of statistics about Atlantic storms that appear before the traditional June 1 start of hurricane season. The last time a named storm formed prior to the season was April 18, 2003 when Tropical Storm Anna sprang up near Bermuda, he said. There was also an unnamed subtropical storm with 50 mph winds that appeared April 21, 1992, he added.

A Gulf Coast producer said a big power generator was buying more gas from his company than before, which he took as a sign of increasing cooling load in the South. He agreed with the marketer that the points he trades were down about a dime early on but rising in later deals.

The producer said he was surprised to see more price strength on ANR Southeast than on Columbia Gulf onshore; usually it's Columbia Gulf commanding a premium. That almost certainly was a function of CenterPoint's newly operational Carthage-to-Perryville pipeline, which Bentek Energy says was backing up South Louisiana supplies into Columbia Gulf at Rayne (see Daily GPI, May 8).

©Copyright 2007 Intelligence Press Inc. All rights reserved. The preceding news report may not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part, in any form, without prior written consent of Intelligence Press, Inc.