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Prices Up Strongly as Eastern Cooling Load Spreads

With Philadelphia temperatures expected to peak around 90 Wednesday, the combination of a mini-heat wave in the East, a 15.8-cent advance by July futures on the previous Friday and the restoration of industrial demand that had been missing during a long holiday weekend caused double-digit price gains across the board Tuesday in the launch of the June aftermarket.

One source suggested that buyers also might be finding current low prices attractive in making storage injection purchases now rather than putting them off for an unknown future.

Increases ranged from about 20 cents to nearly half a dollar and were spread fairly evenly throughout geographic regions.

The cash market will continue to get futures support Wednesday after the July contract climbed another 14.8 cents (see related story)

Even though the official start of summer is still three weeks away, southern temperatures are starting to feel that way already with highs in the mid 90s. And despite lagging a bit in their heat levels, some residents of the Midwest and Northeast are likely to be contributing to power generation load with peak mercury levels expected from the low 80s to around 90 in many areas.

Even Denver in the Rockies is predicted to be near 90 Wednesday (with Phoenix hitting 100), so although the West in general is the coolest part of the U.S., it's not especially cold there. Alberta's lows in the mid 40s Wednesday will constitute most of the market's highly diminished heating demand.

SoCalGas and PG&E both lifted high-linepack OFOs prior to the close of the holiday weekend (see Transportation Notes), and price gains averaged about 20 cents and a little more than 40 cents at the PG&E citygate and Southern California border, respectively.

IntercontinentalExchange (ICE) found Transco Zone 6's New York pool to be the site of one of the biggest price gains around 40 cents, while its ICE-traded volumes increased from 218,500 MMBtu Friday to 303,700 MMBtu Tuesday. The Houston area also was feeling the air conditioning load effects of highs around the mid 90s, yet although Houston Ship Channel numbers jumped by about 30 cents, ICE activity fell from 322,100 MMBtu to 289,400 MMBtu.

Canaccord Genuity analysts noted that last week's gain of 15 rigs in gas-directed drilling activity marked the largest absolute week-on-week increase since last November.

ICE said almost no last-minute June baseload trading was occurring on its online platform Tuesday, but in one of the few instances of late deals, 30,000 MMBtu/d changed hands at an average $4.585 on Tennessee's 500 Leg, up about 15 cents from Friday. Waha gained about 13 cents to nearly $4.31 in bidweek deals Tuesday, ICE said.

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