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Cash Advance Outdoes Slim Futures Rise; September Posts Slight Gain

Physical gas for delivery Tuesday rose at most points in Monday's trading as a combination of rising power loads and curtailments at eastern points kept a firm tone to the market. New England and the Mid-Atlantic saw double-digit advances, but a few points in the Marcellus and Texas reported declines.

The overall market gain was 8 cents, but most producing regions were up only a few pennies. Futures managed a slight gain, but little is being said about a market bottom.

At the close, September had risen 1.6 cents to $3.792 and October was up 2.1 cents to $3.828. September crude oil fell 94 cents to $96.41/bbl.

Pipeline restrictions and OFOs reduced supplies at a number of eastern points. Tennessee reported an OFO between Stations 315 and 321 in northern Pennsylvania and said on its website that pipeline maintenance at the Mahwah delivery point and interconnect with Algonquin Gas Transmission in New Jersey had cut flows by a whopping 660,185 Dth.

Algonquin (AGT) reported restrictions too. "AGT has restricted interruptible and approximately 26% secondary out of path nominations that exceed entitlements sourced from points west of its Southeast Compressor Station (Southeast) for delivery to points east of Southeast. No increases in nominations sourced from points west of Southeast for delivery to points east of Southeast, except for Primary Firm No-Notice nominations, will be accepted," the company stated.

AGT said it had “restricted interruptible and approximately 55% secondary out of path nominations that exceed entitlements sourced from points west of its Cromwell Compressor Station...for delivery to points east of Cromwell. No increases in nominations sourced from points west of Cromwell for delivery to points east of Cromwell, except for Primary Firm No-Notice nominations, will be accepted."

Expected increases in power loads also added a bid to the next-day market. The New England ISO expects Monday's peak load of 16,850 MW to rise to 17,030 MW by Tuesday and 17,760 MW by Wednesday. ISO New York forecast Monday's peak load of 21,732 MW would climb to 22,174 MW on Tuesday and to 23,288 MW Wednesday.

Gas for delivery at the Algonquin Citygates gained 42 cents to $2.66, and deliveries to Iroquois Waddington added a stout 71 cents to $3.37. Deliveries to Tennessee Zone 6 200 L added 26 cents to $2.60.

Points in the Mid-Atlantic also showed solid gains. Gas headed for New York City on Transco Zone 6 added 58 cents to $2.74, and packages on Tetco M-3 were seen 49 cents higher at $2.62.

On Millenium Pipeline, gas rose 30 cents to $2.26, and packages on Dominion South rose 23 cents to $2.34.

Marcellus points, however, lost ground. Gas on Transco Leidy shed 7 cents to $1.73, and parcels on Tennessee Zone 4 Marcellus came in 21 cents lower at $1.44.

Producing regions showed more modest changes. Gas at the Henry Hub was flat at $3.76 and on Transco Zone 3 gas changed hands at $3.80, up 1 cent. Deliveries to Tennessee 500 L were up a nickel at $3.79 and gas at the Houston Ship Channel was up a penny at $3.87. At Katy, next-day gas was flat at $3.86.

Futures traders were unimpressed with Monday’s activity. "I don't think there is much upside here, and it was a pretty uninspired day," said a New York floor trader. "There was a little bit of a correction here, but ultimately I see lower numbers."

Analyst Alan Lammey of WeatherBELL Analytics said throughout last week, “we repeatedly noted that if September gas prices closed below $3.84 for the weekly (Friday) close, then new lows may be on tap in the relative near term. It appears that the bearish side of that price pivot is now in play. At this juncture, unless there's some unforeseen bullish catalyst that emerges, it would not be out of the question to see prices test the mid-to-upper $3.60s in the relative near term.

"For the most part, the U.S. natural gas market is looking at the fact that the summer is winding down. Kids are going back to school; Labor Day is just a stone's throw away (Sept. 1 this year), and other than some heat building in Texas and along a portion of the East Coast as part of the six- to 10-day outlook, the latest 20-day forecasts published by chief meteorologist Joe Bastardi are depicting a rather lackluster demand scenario ahead. As a result, cooling demand will be subdued to a degree, setting the stage for another round of robust weekly storage data reports."

In a Monday note to clients, Tom Saal at INTL FC Stone said prices were moving “closer to long-term untested monthly profile value area,” $3.710-3.462, after getting close in July. “This near-term weakness still provides seasonal buying opportunities for the upcoming winters."

Other forecasters also see continued slippage in energy requirements. Commodity Weather Group (CWG) in its six- to 10-day outlook Monday showed a ridge of below-normal temperatures extending from Wisconsin to Idaho to Colorado. Above-normal temperatures are seen in California and extending along an axis from East Texas to Kentucky to westernmost New York.

"Changes were mixed [Monday] compared to last Friday's outlook, but the big picture view is that net demand was lost again," said CWG President Matt Rogers. "Additional losses on the East Coast were probably the biggest drivers of [the] change. The Midwest actually sees some warmer short-term changes with faster warming this week with some warmer values getting into the southern Midwest for the six-10 day. California also sees some hotter shifts early in the period and then again late in the six-10 day. Texas heat pulls back a bit this week with risks for thunderstorm activity disrupting highs.

"A major model split continues between the American/Canadian versus the European guidance for the Deep South, including Texas later six-10 day through the 11-15 day. We continue to lean toward the cooler American/Canadian versions, but the European would argue -- once again -- for hotter risks continuing. The 11-15 day focuses cool anomalies over the Midwest."

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