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Physical Prices Hit Hard as Futures Fall a Fourth Time This Week

Gas for delivery over the weekend and Monday plummeted as a 1-2 combination of a weak screen and modest temperatures gave buyers little incentive to spring for a three-day package, especially when spot purchases can be made by instant electronic communications. The selling was broad and pervasive and no point made it to the positive side of the trading ledger.

The overall physical gas price decline averaged more than a quarter. California points were consistently weak, but New England locations were hit with a drubbing near $2 in some instances. By the close of futures trading the market had made it four out of five losses on the week and July was down 5.3 cents to $4.531 and August shed 5.1 cents to $4.552. July crude oil rose 83 cents to $107.26/bbl.

According to forecasters, Los Angeles and much of California were expected to see pleasant load-killing weather. "Los Angeles is in store for a continued stretch of sunny, warm days," said AccuWeather.com's Katy Galimberti. "For the weekend and to start off next week, temperatures should hover around the 80 degree Fahrenheit mark. Sunshine will appear each day after low clouds dissipate in the afternoon. She added that near-perfect conditions could be expected for the series between the Los Angeles Angels and Texas Rangers.

"Overnight temperatures should fall to the mid-60s. The consistent sun and warmth will last throughout the start of next week [and] Monday could be slightly warmer as temperatures rise slightly into midweek."

AccuWeather.com forecast that the high Friday in San Francisco of 69 should ease to 66 on Saturday and Monday. The normal high in San Francisco is 71. Burbank's high of 89 Friday was anticipated to slide to 87 Saturday and 84 on Monday. The seasonal high in Burbank is 82. San Diego's Friday high of 76 was predicted to fall to 74 Saturday and 73 Monday. The normal high in San Diego mid June is 72.

California power prices held steady. IntercontinentalExchange reported that Monday peak power at NP-15 rose $1 to $52.00 and peak Monday power at SP-15 added $3.22 to $54.54.

Deliveries to Malin for the weekend and Monday fell 15 cents to $4.48 and gas at the PG&E Citygates shed 13 cents to $5.05. At the SoCal Citygates packages fell 15 cents to $4.84 and SoCal Border points came in 13 cents lower at $4.64. Gas on El Paso S Mainline skidded 17 cents to $4.67.

Next day deliveries to points on the vast PJM power grid declined as mild weather patterns were expected to prevail. WSI Corp. in its morning outlook said, "high pressure will attempt to nose southward into the Mid-Atlantic [Friday] with partly sunny, seasonable and less humid conditions. However, another disturbance and a residual frontal boundary may bring a round of [load-killing] rain and storms across western and southern PJM today. An area of rain and embedded thunderstorms may move out of western PJM into the lower Mid-Atlantic late tonight through Saturday. More tranquil weather is expected by Sunday, though an isolated shower or storm is possible across the Appalachians and western PJM. High pressure will slide off the East Coast early next week. This will result in a southerly flow, which should result in warmer temperatures and increasing humidity levels. This warmth and a potential frontal system may lead to showers and storms over western PJM by Monday, which should spread eastward during Tuesday. Rainfall amounts may range 0.25-1+."

From a temperature perspective, "the aforementioned cold front and its associated wet weather will continue to support a cooling trend and lower humidity levels during the next two to three days. Highs may fall back into the mid 70s to mid 80s. Lows may range in the 50s and 60s. Temperatures and humidity levels may begin to trend up early next week [and] highs may warm into the 80s to near 90 and lows may range in the 60s to low 70s," the forecaster said.

Gas on Columbia TCO fell 15 cents to $4.43 and weekend and Monday packages on Dominion South dropped 39 cents to $2.40. On Transco Leidy gas changed hands at $2.10, down 27 cents and deliveries to Tennessee Zone 4 Marcellus shed 32 cents to $2.01.

New England points took it on the chin as forecasters called for clearing conditions. "While portions of the Central and Southern states deal with showers and thunderstorms this weekend, the weather around Boston will be free of rain," said AccuWeather.com meteorologist Alex Sosnowski. "A storm system will cause rain to bulge northward for a time on Saturday over the mid-Atlantic states. However, the rain will stop short of reaching New England and will retreat to the south and east on Sunday.This paves the way for some sunshine both days of the weekend."

He added that "High pressure centered over Hudson Bay, Canada, will have enough influence to not only keep rain away but will also deliver low humidity. Temperatures will average near to slightly below normal this weekend. Temperatures typically range from a low near 60 to a high in the upper 70s."

Weekend and Monday deliveries to the Algonquin Citygates dropped a gut-wrenching $1.98 to $2.83 and gas on Iroquois Waddington was off 91 cents to $3.89. On Tennessee Zone 6 200 L parcels were seen at $2.91, down a stout $1.82.

Gas bound for New York City on Transco Zone 6 fell 52 cents to $2.40 and deliveries on Tetco M-3 dropped 40 cents to $2.43.

Analysts saw the day's futures slide as indicative of  "traders appear[ing] less convinced that the pace of inventory restocking will materially slow," said Teri Viswanath, director of commodity strategy for natural gas at BNP Paribas.

"However, the current -4% loss on track this week might prove short-lived as the subsequent build in cooling demand possibly prevents the weekly stock build from breaching the 100 Bcf mark for the next several months.  What’s more, the population-weighted cooling degree days for the peak air-conditioning months of July and August are expected to significantly outpace year-ago levels.  While it is simply too early to get a definitive read on the upcoming weather, the near-term weather models are encouraging with a build in heat in the eastern half of the US now anticipated for the first week in July."

 "Not surprisingly, we expect prices will remain supported above the $4.50 level and will likely recover on further warmer changes to the weather forecasts next week," she said.

Others are also maintaining a positive outlook with a chance of prices trading 30 cents higher. "The shortfall against five-year average supply narrowed by 25 Bcf in keeping alive the bearish dynamic of deficit contraction," said Jim Ritterbusch of  Ritterbusch and Associates in closing comments Thursday to clients. "The current deficit against the averages now stands at roughly 850 Bcf, a shortfall of approximately 33%. We are maintaining a view that this shortfall will need to be cut to at least below 30% before supply concerns will be alleviated. Until then, this market will remain highly reactive to any pronounced or extended hot temperature forecasts.

"Although some above-normal trends are expected along the East Coast out toward the 4th of July weekend, expected mild patterns across the mid-section of the country are currently providing an offset. All in all, [Thursday's] price action failed to alter a near-term bullish stance in which the $4.85 level still appears attainable. Any August or September long positions established today should be protected by stops below the $4.54 level on a close-only basis in referencing July futures. We would also suggest adding to fall-winter bull spreads."

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