The cash market largely shrugged off a prior-day drops of 3 cents by futures and some continuing trends toward milder weather in rising at a modest majority of points Wednesday.
Most locations were flat to about 55 cents higher. The Northeast -- which had been savoring unusually mild temperatures for the most part recently but was due to see them fall significantly Thursday -- recorded all of the biggest gains. Despite freezing lows predicted for its Midwest market area, the Midcontinent (along with the Rockies) had most of the biggest losses, which ranged from 2-3 cents to about 15 cents.
January futures restored some positive guidance for Thursday's cash market by rising 8.9 cents (see related story).
El Paso Corp. was still investigating Wednesday a rupture that occurred Tuesday afternoon on the Tennessee 30-inch diameter line near Natchitoches, LA, said spokesman Richard Wheatley. No fire or injuries resulted from the rupture, he said, and mainline valves were isolated on both ends of the affected section. There are three other parallel lines in the area, so no service was interrupted.
Although Algonquin citygates saw one of the biggest price gains of nearly 45 cents, IntercontinentalExchange (ICE) said trading volumes there shrank from 172,900 MMBtu Tuesday to 149,500 MMBtu Wednesday. Henry Hub activity on the ICE platform fell even more from 1,016,900 MMBtu to 817,600 MMBtu, but Hub prices were up only about a nickel.
Lake-effect snow was expected in northwestern Pennsylvania and western New York, but otherwise the Northeast was just anticipating windy thunderstorms, according to The Weather Channel. Outside frigid conditions in the Midwest and Upper Plains, most of the rest of the nation could expect merely chilly to mild weather. However, cold in the South extended far enough to prompt an Overage Alert Day by Florida Gas Transmission (see related story).
The Atlantic Basin was devoid of notable tropical activity on the first day after the official end of the 2010 hurricane season.
Although linepack had begun reaching the bottom levels of its target range, Kern River continued to caution shippers against running negative imbalances.
A Midcontinent producer said he was "confused;" although prices were generally softer in his region, he did not perceive enough cold weather to justify higher prices elsewhere. He was suspicious about OGT telling his company and others that it couldn't take any more gas onboard because of being full. He thought it may have been a result of people refusing to take gas out of storage for now; "they're controlling the market," he said.
The producer said he thinks prices "will try" to go up Thursday, but he was dubious about whether the attempt would succeed. The current market is not based so much on cold temperatures, he said, but more on storage plays in which those who can "hoard" their storage will do so to force prices higher.
A western trader said the region was warming slightly after last week. His company is "leaning on storage a little bit" but currently is seeing low demand.
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