With little change in overall weather fundamentals over the weekend, the cash market generally emulated the screen Monday and sat back to await further developments. Most points were about a nickel or less up or down from flat; larger gains and losses were few, scattered and capped at 15-20 cents or so.
The inland West remains a cauldron of severely hot weather with triple-digit highs in several areas, yet most of Monday’s mild softness was concentrated at western points. Otherwise the South feels like it’s late July, but conditions in the Midwest and Northeast are more reminiscent of late spring or early fall. Tropical Depression Seven disappeared Saturday, and other than a couple of patches of “disturbance” that bear watching, the Atlantic tropical storm scene is quiet, The Weather Channel said.
A Gulf Coast marketer said trading started slowly and picked up momentum, with late higher prices getting a boost when the screen ventured into the high $4.70s for a while. And despite a perception of weather bearishness, the market is getting some fundamental support, he said, noting that it’s hot across the southern half of the U.S., while North Texas and some of southern Oklahoma were joining parts of the West in recording high temperatures over 100 degrees.
A producer attributed some of the late firmness to traders getting caught in a short squeeze, Transco Station 65 was trading 10-12 cents over the screen and had a late run from $4.64 early up to the high $4.80s later on. A Midwest trader was more conservative in his assessment, saying, “Some prices climbed back a little, but most were as flat as they come. There are no clear signs directing cash, so it is just hovering.”
But several other sources said little had changed from late last week, and they continue to look for mild softness to dominate the market as the week goes on. “A little warmer weather is due by this weekend, but not enough to make a difference,” according to a Midcontinent marketer. It’s currently so mild in the Midcontinent and Midwest that utilities are buying little if any new gas, he added.
A Northeast trader had a similar report, saying regional weather load is close to nil. “The market is pretty quiet for us and we’re miffed by that,” he added. He and his colleagues “would rather be in the middle of some action.”
Maybe he will see more action Tuesday as trading focuses more on next-month activity. A marketer said he still was not seeing much August business being done Monday, and guessed that a lot of people were waiting for the August futures expiry Tuesday before committing to many bidweek deals. “Maybe then I’ll have something to do again,” he added.
A producer reported intra-Alberta deals for August in the mid to high C$5.20s, while a Chicago citygate was quoted in the low $4.70s. The Chicago number was barely above swing levels, while next-month intra-Alberta was running about a dime over current quotes. Northeast basis (last-day settlement) was quoted at plus 30 cents for Dracut and plus 46-47 cents for the Algonquin citygate.
An East Coast source said bidweek numbers were moving along with the screen Monday; that is, they really weren’t going anywhere since except for a brief and moderate mid-morning spike, the August contract wavered on either side of flat for the rest of the day.
Analyst Thomas Driscoll of Lehman Brothers forecasts that EIA will report an injection of 75 Bcf for the week ended July 25. “High injection rates will still need to overcome the current storage deficit,” Driscoll continued. “Storage appears to be on track to end the refill season slightly above historical norms at about 3.0-3.1 Tcf. We think Henry Hub gas is likely to trade at 15-20% of WTI [West Texas Intermediate crude oil] prices during the rest of the refill season.”
Meanwhile, Kyle Cooper of Citigroup said his final estimation for the EIA report is a build of 83-93 Bcf.
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