With little in the way of fresh news, natural gas futures limpedmostly sideways yesterday as cautious summer bulls matched upnearly perfectly with March bears. In fact, the only notablefeature in Thursday’s session was a rash of market-on-close buying,which firmed prices at the end. The March contract advanced 1.9cents to finish at $2.549 on its penultimate trading day.

It was “like watching mollusks mating,” said Ed Kennedy ofMiami-based Pioneer Futures, describing yesterday’s lacklustertrading activity. “You had one last little thrill ride at theclose, but I think between [Wednesday] and [Thursday], you’ve seenyour range for [Friday’s] expiration.

“There were a lot of options written and many people cleared outtheir March books [Thursday.] Because of that, I expect optionsopen interest to diminish significantly [Friday] while futures canexpect another day of quiet trading.”

However, Kennedy was not the only one feeling a little clammyover the March expiration. A Chicago risk manager contends theverdict is in and traders want to be long summer and short March.”With temperatures approaching 30 degrees above normal, who canblame them,” he reasoned.

Although technicals typically take a back seat to positionclearing on expiration-day, one cannot look past the looming chartgap created between last Friday’s $2.595 low and Tuesday’s $2.57high. And following Thursday’s positive momentum, that could be anearly goal for locals to test, traders said. If March is able topunch through resistance there, it will encounter additionalselling at the $2.665 mark. Alternatively on a move lower, sellingwill be curbed at the prior low of $2.465.

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