Buoyed by a much firmer screen and the pickup in load thatfollows a long Labor Day weekend, cash prices rose Tuesday by anickel or more at almost every point, with most of the increasesexceeding a dime. Not only did natural gas futures rise more than adime, but the crude oil futures contract for October also flexedits muscle with a jump of slightly over 60 cents, placing it wellabove $22/bbl, a marketer pointed out.

Trading activity was subdued, several sources noted. Onecommented it seemed like not everyone had returned from holidayyet.

Prices generally started near their low points of the day andcrept higher along with the screen, a Texas trader said. Heregarded the firmness as a case of cash getting over the holidayblahs, “but it still seemed like a lot of inactivity and verylittle market [demand].”

The market is getting just the kind of energizing kick in thepants we should have expected after last week’s precipitous falljust as the aftermarket was getting started, a Midcontinentmarketer said. Industrial loads were returning nicely Tuesday andweather is still pretty warm in much of the Midcontinent, he wenton. And with Access continuing to trend higher in the afternoon, hewouldn’t be surprised to see more nickel-to-dime upticks today. Themarketer doesn’t expect prices to ever get back to index levelsthis month, “but it looks like we hit the aftermarket’s depthsFriday.”

The Southwest basins and California market were participants inthe overall cash price strength. However, the Rockies and Canadianpoints tended to see the weakest recoveries, likely due to anexpansion construction outage of the Jackson Prairie storagefacility that began Tuesday and will last through Saturday, aCalgary source said. That is cramping the injection flexibility ofa number of traders, she said.

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