Colder forecasts during the Christmas weekend were in effect for many areas, and although near-term predictions varied, most points were flat to about a dime higher. All of the major declines from about a dime to the $2.65 area occurred in the Northeast, where a major weekend storm had begun departing.

Following good futures support from Monday, the cash market will have negative screen guidance Wednesday after Nymex's January contract retreated by 17.8 cents Tuesday (see related story).

Believe it or not, well after the end of the normal Atlantic hurricane season, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) was monitoring a "small low-pressure system" about 50 miles east of Barbados Tuesday. Offshore production operators could rest easy as NHC gave the system only a 10% chance of becoming a tropical cyclone in the succeeding 48 hours.

A Midwest utility buyer said temperatures were "about normal now" but should be getting slightly colder over the next couple of days. The Christmas weekend should be fairly cold, he said, but conditions are likely to be "more like normal" going into the new year. It's pretty typical year-end gas throughput for his company, he said.

For a Midwest marketer, the weather was "still cold but warmer than before." She said she was still buying a little heating load gas for her company's customers, but they didn't need as much as last week.

Stephen Smith of Stephen Smith Energy Associates predicted an adjusted storage withdrawal of 192 Bcf for the week ending Dec. 17; his previous estimate was 175 Bcf. IAF Advisors analyst Kyle Cooper looks for a smaller draw of 181 Bcf.

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