The August aftermarket began slightly softer at most points as traders regarded generally moderate mid-summer temperatures in the Northeast and Midwest and the usual weekend drop of industrial load as more important than the previous day's 10.9-cent climb by September futures in their prompt-month debut.

Modest price movement was again frequent as many points remained flat or only 1-2 cents up or down. A small majority of locations fell from 2-3 cents to a little more than a dime. Other points were flat to about a dime lower.

The Florida citygate once again greatly outpaced the overall market with an increase of nearly 35 cents as an Overage Alert Day by Florida Gas Transmission neared three and a half weeks of consecutive implementation (see Transportation Notes). However, the pipeline relaxed the tolerance for negative daily imbalances slightly Friday.

After dipping into negative territory for a while, September futures rallied to finish the day with a gain of 9.6 cents (see related story).

Although prices declined by about 7 cents on Columbia Gas (TCO) and a little more than a dime at Dominion-South, IntercontinentalExchange (ICE) reported significant volume increases for both Appalachian pipes in trading on its platform. TCO was up from 576,500 MMBtu Thursday to 646,500 MMBtu Friday, ICE said, while Dominion deals rose from 440,100 MMBtu to 513,400 MMBtu.

Hot weather with peaks in the mid to upper 90s was expected to dominate the South through the weekend, but even the desert Southwest had cooled off a bit with Phoenix not predicted to break 100 Saturday, according to Madison, WI-based Weather Central. Other than scorching Midcontinent temperatures, most of the rest of the nation was due to enjoy relatively mild summer conditions.

A western trader noted that inland California was not as hot as usual for the end of July. He attributed a small uptick in PG&E citygate numbers primarily to wildfires in Southern California, which were limiting power transfers into Northern California, he said.

The basis spread from San Juan-Blanco to the PG&E citygate is covering transport costs for August, the trader said; that hasn't been so in the last month or two.

For a change, the number of drilling rigs searching for gas in the U.S. took a fairly significant tumble of 10 to 972 during the week ending July 30, according to the Baker Hughes Rotary Rig Count. Two rigs were added in the Gulf of Mexico, but 12 onshore units went into hiatus, Baker Hughes said. Its latest tally is up 1% from a month ago and 44% higher than the year-earlier level.

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