The prior day’s 8-cent uptick in June natural gas futures sparked cash market gains almost across the board on Tuesday for Wednesday delivery. Most averages increased between a dime to 20 cents, with Dawn — down two pennies — as the only decline.

The largest increases appeared to occur in the East with some points tacking on 20 cents to Monday’s average for Tuesday delivery. Out West and in the Rockies the gains were a little less with most points adding just less than a dime to 13 or 14 cents.

In the Gulf region, the Henry Hub average continued to lag Nymex, but not by much. The hub added a dime on Tuesday to average $3.96 while the June futures contract had an uneventful day trading within an 8.3-cent range before closing the regular session at $4.013, up 1.3 cents from Monday’s finish (see related story).

In the Great Lakes Region, one marketer, who had purchased some swing gas for a customer at just north of $4.20 on Tuesday, said the MichCon Citygate was a little pricey. “After dipping lower following the May settlement, June futures are moving higher and that is pulling cash prices up as well,” the Michigan-based trader told NGI. “Cooling weather forecasts are also having an impact here. We are expected to see highs only in the 50s and nightly lows near freezing.”

Meanwhile, it was a hot weather forecast in the southwestern U.S. that was being blamed for higher prices as a utility purchaser was watching El Paso non-Bondad prices ratchet up. “It has been a very mild spring so far and demand is way down from year ago levels,” he said. “[It] will be interesting to see how prices respond to this uptick in demand. You have this natural inclination to move higher at this time of year as the weather heats ups…though I suspect the sluggish economy and falling crude prices will keep a lid on any surge in gas prices for now.”

Gas prices have been hovering around $4 for the last few months and don’t appear ready to move anytime soon.

“The natural gas market remains choppy and rangebound, with nearby futures wobbling either side of the $4 mark,” said Citi Futures Perspective analyst Tim Evans. “There is some ongoing flow of bargain hunting on the perception that with prices near the bottom of the five year range for this time of year the downside may be limited. At the same time, the upside looks as though it is capped for now by a significant, and still growing, storage surplus.”

Taking an early look at the Energy Information Administration’s storage report for the week ending April 30, Evans said he expects an 85 Bcf injection to be revealed on Thursday morning, which would be inline with last year’s 87 Bcf injection for the similar week, but larger than the five-year average build of 70 Bcf.

Kyle Cooper, managing director at IAF Advisors in Houston, is expecting a 79 Bcf addition.

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