Prices continued to fall at nearly all points Monday as summertime cooling load was fairly light outside the southern third of the U.S. The previous Thursday’s downturn of 18 cents by August futures was a further negative influence on the cash market, and the return of industrial demand from a holiday weekend proved to have essentially no bullish impact.

A few scattered flat to slightly more than a dime higher quotes averted an across the board run of softness. Losses ranged from a little less than a nickel to about 45 cents, although only one Midwest point dropped more than about a quarter.

Tuesday’s cash market will again have bearish futures signals after Nymex traders pushed the August natural gas contract another 12.8 cents lower Monday (see related contract).

Weather-based fundamentals also will remain weak for the most part. The heat wave of the past two weeks in the south-central U.S. has subsided to some extent, with Houston-area temperatures, which previously had been reaching the 100-degree area, limited to the low to mid 90s this week. And stormy weather was due to keep much of the eastern South around 90 or slightly less Tuesday.

Analysts continue to marvel at what Weather 2000 called the “Year Without Summer” in the Northeast. Conditions there will stay moderate with highs ranging from the low 70s to mid 80s Tuesday. And although the Midwest has had a couple of temporary brushes with hot weather already, mild highs in the 70s are due there early this week.

The Pacific Northwest had been contributing some air conditioning load to the overall market through late last week with highs in the low to mid 90s in such locations as Portland, OR, but temperatures were expected to peak a bit short of 70 Tuesday in Portland. Above-normal temperatures are persisting in the Rockies and peaks in the 100s will continue in the desert Southwest, but inland California has cooled considerably since last week and much of the West will stay mild for a while longer.

Despite Florida Gas Transmission warning that warm forecasts for its Florida market area might result in an Overage Alert Day, that did not translate into price strength. Florida Gas Zones 2 and 3 were down nearly a quarter and nearly 20 cents, respectively.

A Houston-based marketer reported that trading was typically quiet following a holiday weekend. For many people it’s a case of catching up on paperwork, he said, because some of their usual trading counterparties were taking extra holiday-related vacation time.

The marketer said he expects moderate softness to dominate again Tuesday. It’s hot in the South but that isn’t enough to offset the lack of weather-based demand in the northern market areas, he said. At least all the pipelines seem to be operating smoothly at this time, he observed.

A Midcontinent producer also said he expects more price declines Tuesday, citing primarily the rapid drop of storage injection options in most areas. There are no rallies in sight at this point, he said. Even Midcontinent intrastate pipeline demand, which had been quite robust through last week with temperatures reaching 100 or more in Oklahoma, has become weak with highs falling back into the 80s. A warming trend is in place, he said, but it will still keep highs limited to the low 90s Tuesday.

Although it was hardly significant, the number of drilling rigs searching for natural gas in the U.S. saw a rare increase in recent months for the second time in three weeks during the week ending July 2 (the tally was issued a day earlier than usual due to the Independence Day holiday), according to the Baker Hughes Rotary Rig Count ( The count went up by one as one rig being deactivated in the Gulf of Mexico was offset by two units becoming operational onshore. Baker Hughes said its new total count of 688 was down 2% from a month ago and 55% less than the year-ago level.

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