Prices for the last day of February were generally on theupswing Monday, ranging from flat in California to more than a dimehigher at a few Northeast points.

A screen rise of nearly 7 cents got much of the credit or blame,depending upon point of view, for leading cash higher. In addition, acold front that had moved through the Northeast early Monday, whilefar from threatening to freeze the region, generated a modicum ofheating demand that sent Transco’s Zone 6-NYC pool back over $3 againafter it had failed to top $2.90 Friday. A utility trader saidNortheast numbers also got a boost from a Tennessee rupture Sunday inPennsylvania (see TransportationNotes). Shippers getting cut there had to scrounge for alternativesupplies, he said.

For quite a few traders it was a relatively quiet swing marketas they tended to concentrate more on wrapping up March deals. AMidwestern buyer commented, “Incremental trading was a non-eventwith so much more at stake in both March and summer stripbusiness.”

A Northeast buyer said the Transco Zone 6 offers he was hearingMonday were about a nickel down from pre-weekend pricing. However,he was in a distinct minority as nearly all other markets werereported running higher with the April futures contract. ACalifornia buyer who had paid a little under $2.60 at the border onFriday said most of Monday’s offers were in the low $2.60s and onegot as high as $2.69.

Chicago was trading as high as $2.68-69, said a buyer who hadmade most of her purchases in the low $2.60s last week.

A Texas marketer wasn’t very happy Monday. “I’m way short onMarch gas, it’s tough finding supplies today to cover my needs, andprices are going higher with the screen,” he said. Another sourcewas in agreement on the apparent shortness of supply. “From ahistorical standpoint these prices are very high, and that makes iteasy to be bearish,” she said. “However, low production volumes[that are] unable to keep pace with high anticipated demand couldkeep prices at these high levels.”

A producer, while glad to see most prices moving higher,regretted doing most of his March sales early. “We thought we weredoing pretty well to trigger deals while the screen was still at$2.50,” he lamented. “Now I wish we had waited.”

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