Cash points dipped across the country Friday for Sunday and Monday delivery as the brutal heat being experienced in much of the country was expected to dissipate over the weekend. Market points could be in for a rebound Monday after August natural gas futures on Friday finished 10.2 cents higher at $2.824, up 15.6 cents from the previous week's finish.
While nearly all cash points fell on Friday, the largest declines could once again be found in the Northeast, where the Algonquin Citygate average peeled off just over a dollar and Tennessee Zone 6 200 Line lightened by more than 90 cents.
Outside of a few steep drops, most pricing points across the country declined by between a nickel to 15 cents as traders took into account lightened weekend demand. Everyone was talking about the weather Friday, but some market participants questioned whether heat during the summer should really be a market mover.
"A late-June heat wave continues to rewrite the record books in the Rockies and Plains," Weather.com said. "Monthly records were tied or broken from Ohio to Arkansas." Friday afternoon the U.S. temperature graphic on Weather.com resembled molten lava as deep pink representing 100-plus degree readings dominated the eastern half of the country.
"We're recording temps of 100 degrees, but the bottom line is there is still a lot of gas," said a Midcontinent marketer. While there is certainly a lot going on, trading was pretty quiet Friday due to the weekend. I think we're seeing a bit of a lull ahead of the Fourth of July, which is a little strange this year because it falls in the middle of the week. Coming back from the fourth, I think there will be more of a buying opportunity as folks reload."
While much of the country including the Midcontinent was dealing with sweltering temperatures, the marketer noted that it is supposed to cool a bit starting the new week. "The worst of it is here right now, but it is supposed to back off into the 80s and 90s pretty quickly. While I've seen a lot of press on the current heat wave, I want to remind people that we are entering July. Everyone knows July is a hot month, so there really is no surprise here. It's already factored in as far as I'm concerned.
"What I think will be interesting is how cash reacts Monday. After sliding lower Thursday and Friday, it will be interesting to see whether cash averages respond on Monday to the screen's run-up Friday afternoon," he told NGI. I would expect to see a reaction."
Natural gas futures' strong results on Friday and for the week had some market watchers predicting that price bulls might find some room to roam in the coming weeks.
"The natural gas market is rebounding from [Thursday's] drop as the reaction to the larger-than-expected 57 Bcf net injection to storage has run its course and attention has shifted back to both the declining storage surplus and the ongoing summer heat that promises to limit injections below-average rates in the weeks ahead," said Citi Futures Perspective analyst Tim Evans.
A New York trader brushed off Friday's action and instead chose to focus on the chart from Wednesday, which revealed a $2.946 high. "Futures really made a move to penetrate that psychological resistance at $3 but ended up coming up short," he told NGI. "I don't see it as a setback for bulls because as any trader knows...the more times a price level is tested, the more likely it is to break."
The last time a front-month contract saw $3 was nearly six months ago in early January.
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