Near-flat numbers again dominated Wednesday’s cash market, but small gains were outpacing small losses considerably more than on the previous day. The fundamental rationale for minor firmness was elusive; although warming trends were predicted for Thursday in the Midwest and Rockies, mid-summer cooling load would still remain relatively moderate in most areas outside the south-central U.S. through interior California.

A significant majority of points were flat to up about 40 cents. However, the top gain by the Florida citygate, after Florida Gas Transmission initiated a new Overage Alert Day (see Transportation Notes), was rather deceiving as the next largest increase was only a little more than a dime.

Several losses of 2-3 cents to about a nickel kept mixed price movement in play.

The cash market had only a modicum of support from Tuesday’s 1.6-cent gain by August futures but will have slightly more substantive backing Thursday after the prompt-month contract posted an increase of 8.8 cents Wednesday (see related story). Expectations of a smaller storage injection report than in recent weeks were believed to have provided a screen boost.

What the National Hurricane Center called a “weak surface trough” and a tropical wave in the vicinity of the northern Bahamas continued to look like nonevents for the gas market. Neither system was expected to experience significant development, and their movement suggested that if they reach land, it will be in the southeastern U.S.

While parts of Western Canada and the Rockies remain abnormally warm, with Calgary and Denver predicted to peak in the low to mid 90s Thursday, and some of inland California will continue reaching the mid 100s, most of the overall market’s major heat is still concentrated from Texas through the desert Southwest. Even in the South (except for Florida) few locations are getting above the upper 80s, which tended to obscure the source of the demand that was providing a floor under most prices Wednesday.

“It is a bit surprising,” said a Midcontinent producer, who noted that spot prices at some locations in his region have begun to surpass first-of-month indexes. “This might have some of the shorts [traders who entered short supply positions in anticipation of further price drops] nervous right now!”

SunTrust Robinson Humphrey analyst Cameron Horwitz said he looks for a 66 Bcf storage injection to be reported for the week ending July 17. He said the lower sequential projection is largely attributable to a week-on-week jump in gas-fired power generation amid 21% higher cooling degree days “and a rebound in industrial demand from the prior week’s depressed holiday levels.”

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