Gains, concentrated in the Midcontinent, Northeast and much of the West, modestly outnumbered losses elsewhere Monday as heat across the southern third of the U.S. continued to wrestle with relatively moderate conditions to the north for primary market influence. The previous Friday’s 3.5-cent loss by August futures and the return of industrial load after the weekend were other opposing price factors.

Flat to about 20 cents higher numbers commanded a slight majority. Declines ranged from 2-3 cents to about a quarter.

Negative futures guidance for the next-day cash market will remain in place after Nymex’s prompt-month gas contract fell another 11 cents Monday (see related story).

Although most of the desert Southwest will continue to reign as the U.S. hot spot with highs around 110 Tuesday, the Midcontinent will give it some competition with peak temperatures remaining in the mid 100s in Oklahoma City, according to Weather Central. Some parts of Texas have receded into the mid 90s lately, but much of the Lone Star State will continue to top out around 100.

The western half of the South will stay mighty warm with highs in the mid to upper 90s, but highs will tend to moderate to either side of 90 at the eastern end. Florida Gas Transmission (FGT) issued an Overage Alert Day Monday (see Transportation Notes), but the Florida citygate and production-area quotes into FGT all softened anyway.

The Rockies are due to cool off a bit into the 80s Tuesday, while moderate highs in the low to mid 80s remain the norm in the Midwest and Northeast.

“We’re just watching prices and filling storage,” commented a buyer for a utility in the South. Reflecting overall industry perceptions to some extent, August will be his company’s “last big month” for storage injections, he said. Currently it’s putting 50,000 Dth/d or so into its storage accounts, the buyer said, and expects to “trickle in” less than 7,000 Dth/d in August; “we’ll be pretty much through after that.”

Currently it’s very warm in his area, he went on, but there’s no problems with that — after all, it’s summertime and temperatures are supposed to be hot.

Noting the most recent Baker Hughes report of a fall of 16 drilling rigs searching for gas in the U.S. to 672 during the week ending July 3, analysts at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey/the Gerdes Group commented that it was the largest week-to-week rig decline since late May and the lowest number of active gas rigs since early 2002. The analysts said they expect the gas rig count will bottom out around 650 rigs over the next month “and remain at roughly this level through year-end.”

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