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Cash Market Records Rebounds Across the Board

After dropping at all points for the weekend, cash prices were united in movement direction again Monday, but this time the direction was upward. The gains apparently were driven mostly by the previous Friday's 21.6-cent advance by June futures and a smidgen of cooling load starting to resurface in the South, because forecasts of Tuesday weather were generally mild in most areas.

Monday's upticks, which ranged from a little less than a nickel to 90 cents or so, also benefited from the return of industrial load from its typical weekend hiatus. Only two western points -- Opal and Questar -- were unable to achieve double-digit gains.

Tuesday's cash market will have nearly double the prior-day futures support that Monday's did after Nymex's June natural gas contract spiked another 40.1 cents, influenced heavily by another record-setting performance in the crude oil futures trading pit (see related story).

Temperatures in much of the South are starting to peak in the 80s again, which undoubtedly has a fair amount of air conditioning being cranked up, although forecasts of widespread thundershowers Tuesday in the region's western end will keep a damper on heat levels there.

Conditions have warmed in both the Midwest and Northeast to levels that create little in the way of either heating or cooling load currently. However, both regions are expected to see a return of cooler weather later this week.

The Rockies market is in a similar position with localized heating load that was still fairly substantial last week having receded greatly; Denver was expected to see a high in the mid to upper 70s Tuesday. And the desert Southwest is cooling off, with Phoenix's high of about 93 Monday forecast to be replaced by one 10 degrees lower Tuesday. But inland California temperatures reaching the mid to high 80s are creating some power generation demand for western gas.

Western numbers also got a boost from the lifting of weekend OFOs by California's two biggest distributors (see Transportation Notes). The Southern California border recorded one of Monday's biggest gains.

Florida Gas Transmission finally got around to issuing an Overage Alert Day (OAD) Saturday (see Transportation Notes), but Sunday and Monday it returned to merely warning of the possibility of an OAD.

A Calgary-based producer said he could see "no good reason" for Monday's cash price strength. It apparently was a case of "just following the Nymex" higher, which seemed to be mostly driven by the crude oil market, he said.

The producer added that he was not sure whether higher cash prices will be repeated Tuesday just because of the futures spike. Trading has been rather "choppy" lately, he said, and the market may want to consolidate Monday's gains that didn't seem to be justified by fundamentals.

The Calgary area is getting more spring-like with temperatures reaching the low to mid 50s Monday, he said.

Baker Hughes counted 1,473 drilling rigs actively searching for gas during the week ending May 2, a number that was unchanged from the previous week (http://intelligencepress.com/features/bakerhughes/). An addition of three rigs in the Gulf of Mexico was offset by a decline of three rigs in the onshore tally, Baker Hughes said. The total count was up 1% both from a month earlier and the year-ago level.

Ron Denhardt of Strategic Energy & Economic Research said he expects a storage injection of 62 Bcf to be reported for the weeke ending May 2.

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