Nearly all points gained Tuesday with the overall market posting a gain on average of 7 cents. West Coast, Northeast and East points were strong, except for a few Marcellus Shale-centric points, which recorded declines of 70-80 cents as pipeline constraints in the play continue to wreak havoc on pricing.

Tennessee Zone 5 300L dropped more than 70 cents to $1.65 with a low trade of an astonishing 60 cents, but Tennessee Zone 4 Marcellus took the prize for lows with a deal done at 33 cents. The point ended up declining by close to 80 cents to average $1.06.

Futures managed to gain and at the close of trading September had added 5.6 cents to $2.964 and October had risen 6.4 cents to $2.982. September crude oil gained $1.47 to $93.67/bbl.

Eastern marketers saw the day's rise as confirming their suspicions that traders had gone into August a little short and were utilizing the daily market to meet requirements above and beyond baseload volumes. "At the end of July, it looked like everyone was going into August with less gas baseloaded," said a Northeast marketer. "Add in a little weather, and you will have a firm tone to the market."

Forecaster AccuWeather.com reported that Tuesday's high in Boston of 78 was expected to rise to 86 on Wednesday and Thursday. The normal high in Boston at this time of year is 81.

Quotes for gas delivered to the Algonquin Citygate surged about a quarter, and parcels on Tennessee Zone 6 200 L jumped about 27 cents. Gas at Iroquois Waddington was about a dime higher.

Other eastern points were higher as well. Tetco M-3 added close to a dime, and deliveries to Transco Zone 6 New York rose 10 cents. Dominion was seen about 11 cents higher, and gas on Tennessee Zone 4 313 Pool in northern Pennsylvania gained approximately 8 cents.

Prices at West Coast points rose as expectations of hefty utilization prompted forecasts of receipts falling short of requirements. SoCal Gas predicted a shortfall of 658 MMcf Tuesday would rise to 684 MMcf Wednesday and 689 MMcf on Thursday.

Gas delivered into Malin added about 8 cents, and gas at PG&E Citygates fetched prices about a dime higher. At the SoCal Citygate Wednesday gas was almost a dime higher, and at SoCal Border points gas for delivery Wednesday rose about 15 cents.

A heatwave is also expected for California and portions of the West, AccuWeather.com said. "High pressure at high levels of the atmosphere will build over the West into the weekend. Essentially, this is the same weather system that brought extreme heat and drought to the Midwest earlier this summer and more recently the southern Plains.

"The weather pattern, which represents warm air high in the atmosphere, produces a general zone of sinking air. As the air descends, it is compressed and heats up. Only the immediate coastal areas and beaches will escape the intense heat due to a sea breeze, known to locals as a weak marine layer."

According to AccuWeather.com meteorologist Ken Clark, "The pattern has already delivered the hottest weather of the season so far to parts of the West and will continue to push the mark through the week and into the weekend."

AccuWeather.com's figures show that temperatures will flirt with the 90-degree mark in downtown Los Angeles through Thursday, then they will climb well into the 90s Friday through the weekend. "High temperatures are forecast to reach 110 degrees over the Inland Empire, breaking records in some areas. Temperatures will also climb to hot levels over the interior sections of the Bay Area," Clark said.

Rocky Mountain pipelines also felt the upward push of prices. Deliveries at the Cheyenne Hub Wednesday gained 8 cents and at Opal prompt gas added about 7 cents. CIG Mainline was about a dime higher.

Futures traders were encouraged by the day's advance. "It looks like the market is responding to forecasts of warmer weather at the end of the week," said a New York floor trader. "I thought we were going to break through resistance at $3, but it just fell a little short. We got up to $2.995."

Jim Ritterbusch of Ritterbusch and Associates is looking for nearby futures "to achieve the $2.70 level and ultimately $2.50 but [a] price pop back to above $3 [is] expected first.

"The market is seeing some price strengthening this morning and is likely to see some wide price swings during the next few days as traders jockey for position ahead of another weekly storage figure. Although price response to the weekly supply numbers was overshadowed through much of this summer by focus on weather-related strength in [power generation] demand, this dynamic is slowly shifting as warm deviations from normal have subsided and the temperature impact has declined with the summer period beginning to wind down. Amidst such an environment, the market will become heavily reliant upon tropical storm activity for any significant price advances," he said in a morning note to clients.

For the moment, price support from the tropical storm environment is a long shot. Now Hurricane Ernesto continues to work west, and at 2 p.m. EDT the National Hurricane Center reported that Ernesto was 185 miles east of the Yucatan Peninsula and was now sporting winds of 80 mph. It was moving to the west-northwest at 14 mph, and NHC projections showed it crossing the Yucatan Peninsula and entering the Bay of Campeche.

NHC is also following a tropical wave southwest of the Cape Verde Islands. It gave the wave a 20% chance of reaching tropical cyclone status in the succeeding 48 hours. Also, the post-tropical remnant low of Florence is about 875 miles east of the Leeward Islands, and NHC gave it a 10% chance of regaining tropical cyclone force.

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