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Screen, Firm Power Tug Quotes Higher; October Adds 8 Cents

Next-day gas deliveries posted mostly solid gains Monday aided by a strong screen, supportive power loads and prices, and in the case of the West Coast, forecasts for above normal temperatures.

California and the Mid-Atlantic locations posted double-digit gains, but most points gained a few pennies to more than a nickel, and overall cash prices added 7 cents.

At the close of futures trading, October was higher by 8.3 cents to $3.876, and November was up 8.0 cents to $3.927. October crude oil fell 63 cents to $92.66/bbl.

On the West Coast, next-day prices firmed as temperatures were forecast to hold above normal and power loads were seen increasing. Forecasters at Wunderground.com predicted that temperatures in the Los Angeles area would hold above normal. Monday’s high in Los Angeles of 85 was to dip slightly to 84 Tuesday and Wednesday, well ahead of the normal high of 76. San Diego's high of 81 was expected to slip to 80 Tuesday and Wednesday, above the normal high of 77. Riverside, CA's 87 high on Monday was predicted to reach 91 Tuesday and 95 by Wednesday. The normal high is 92.

The National Weather Service in Los Angeles said moisture from Hurricane Norbert continued to “stream into the area, especially the southern portion, with a few isolated showers still being picked up by radars, mostly over and offshore of [Los Angeles] County.” A trough from the north was to push precipitation out of the southern areas by Monday night and Tuesday was forecast to be a dry day, “likely a couple degrees warmer in most areas simply due to the decrease in clouds. But less humid as precipitable waters drop considerably from the 1.5-2 inches” Monday.

Power loads were expected to increase. The California Independent System Operator said Monday's forecast peak load of 36,576 MW was expected to rise to 37,898 MW by Tuesday.

At Malin, gas for Tuesday delivery was quoted at $3.81, up 4 cents, and deliveries to the PG&E Citygates added 7 cents to $4.39. At the SoCal Citygates, next-day gas was quoted at $4.36, up 14 cents, and SoCal Border Tuesday packages came in at $4.07, up 7 cents. El Paso S Mainline gas was seen $4.18, up 9 cents.

In New England, falling power prices and weaker loads prompted weaker prices. IntercontinentalExchange said Tuesday peak power at the ISO New England's Massachusetts Hub fell $18.82 to $33.75/MWh. ISO New England expected Monday's peak load of 17,300 MW would ease to 17,000 MW Tuesday before rising Wednesday to 17,510 MW.

Gas at the Algonquin Citygates for Tuesday shed 31 cents to $2.74, and deliveries to Tennessee Zone 6 200 L came in 4 cents lower at $2.86.

Firm power pricing in the Mid-Atlantic provided a firm foundation for next-day gas strength. IntercontinentalExchange reported that Tuesday peak power in western New York (NYISO Zone A) rose $1.20 to $45.00/MWh, and deliveries of peak power to the PJM West terminal rose $1.68 to $39.05/MWh.

Gas on Tetco M-3 rose 42 cents to $2.52, and gas bound for New York City on Transco Zone 6 added a healthy 42 cents to $2.51.

In the Great Lakes, gains were more nominal. Gas on Alliance was up 8 cents to $3.94, and the Chicago Citygates was seen 5 cents higher at $3.91. Deliveries to Consumers were higher by 5 cents to $3.94. Parcels on Michcon rose 4 cents to $3.93.

Futures traders saw Monday’s gains as a result of short covering when the market was unable to take out August lows of $3.72. However, a move lower to $3.65 is anticipated as the market digests above normal storage builds in the weeks to come, said a Midwest trader.

WeatherBELL Analytics in its Monday morning 20-day outlook expected significant cold to hit the middle of the country. "The strong push of cold air right into the nation's midsection reaches its coldest point in days three through eight. However, this weakens as it moves eastward, though it does end the warm regime," said meteorologist Joe Bastardi.

The European Model “surface map allows for easterly flow for much of the week in the coastal Northeast, but the low Friday is indeed looking like it will go up into the Great Lakes and a front has to press after it. No question, this is a first-class cool outbreak, but again, the strongest push relative to averages is in the Plains."

For the next two weeks WeatherBELL expects to see an increase nationally in heating requirements with 34.1 heating degree days (HDD) compared to last year's 27.8 HDD and a 30-year average of 28.6 HDD. Nationally, cooling requirements are seen at 79.5 cooling degree days (CDD), significantly less than last year's 112.9 CDD and a 30-year average of 96.3 CDD.

Risk managers expect continued weakness and advise downside protection. "As we wrap up the summer, there is a very good chance that the gas market will continue to probe the year's lows. If we fail to hold the $3.75-3.80 level, technical selling could push the gas market into the mid $3 level," said DEVO Capital President Mike DeVooght in a note to clients.

"A cool summer, high production and mediocre demand continue to keep the gas market on the defensive. To have a substantial bull market, we feel we need to see an uptick in demand to offset the steady production increase we are experiencing in the U.S. We could see short-term weather-related spikes, but we still feel selling rallies above $4.50 for producers is an attractive forward selling level."

DeVooght currently advises trading accounts and end-users to stand aside, and producers and those with exposure to lower prices should hold what's left of a short summer strip initially established at $4.20-4.30 and also the remainder of a second short summer strip initiated at $4.50. The summer strip (October) settled at $3.793 Friday.

Tom Saal, vice president at INTL FC Stone, in his work with Market Profile expects the market to test last week's value area at $3.911-3.781.

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