The cash market returned to the formerly unusual occurrence ofrising weekend prices Friday. It’s not so unusual any more afterthree of the last four Fridays saw general increases.

Price boosts were fairly uniform on either side of a nickel formost of the Gulf Coast, Appalachian, Midcontinent/Midwest andPermian/Waha markets. The flat to slightly lower numbers tended tobe concentrated in the West and at Northeast citygates.

The reasons for Friday’s rebound weren’t apparent, since mildweather remained a virtual non-factor in the market. Cash traderswere indifferent to gas futures that see-sawed on either side offlat during the morning before finally settling down about a penny.They did find a bit of support from strong increases in the Mayfutures contracts for crude oil and heating oil; crude managed toclimb back to just above $28/bbl.

A Gulf Coast producer suggested the upticks may have been adelayed reaction to Wednesday afternoon’s storage report of 62 Bcfin withdrawals during the previous week, which surpassed mostexpectations. Gulf prices were falling slightly as tradingproceeded but managed a small bounce at the end, he said.

An Oklahoma trader reported a lot of interest in Monday-onlybuying, “especially at Waha.” He couldn’t discern the reason,saying he hadn’t seen the latest weather reports. Another source,however, suspected it was largely due to TXU, the dominant electricutility in North Texas, preparing for warmer temperatures earlythis week.

San Juan and Permian Basin prices were running higher in latedeals, which a marketer thought was due to SoCal Gas “or one of theother big boys” emerging with late demand.

Intra-Alberta quotes were falling off “just a smidge” into themid C$3.50s, said a Calgary source, adding that snow had fallenthere Thursday but was melting Friday as a warming trend returned.

With the April bidweek imminent, a producer said he was seeingan unusual amount of interest in April-October term gas purchases.That’s not hard to figure out, he said, when you look at the screenand see all the outer months trading higher than the Aprilcontract. “We believe the screen is right more often than it’swrong, and that tells me there’s a relative dearth of availablesupplies developing,” he said.

A marketer reported these April physical basis levels Friday: ElPaso-Permian at minus 13; Waha at minus 8, ANR-Southwest andPanhandle Eastern at minus 10-9.75; NGPL-Midcontinent at minus 12,Reliant east at minus 7; Houston Ship Channel at plus 1.5; and Katyat minus 2. His Waha and Permian basis duplicated what anothersource had reported Thursday.

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