May baseload prices were tanking on the last morning of tradingThursday, and May swing numbers for either the 1st only or 1st-4thwere “really pathetic,” as a Midcontinent marketer so delicatelyput it. The plunging June futures screen was an obvious drag oncash trading. The early weakness of the May aftermarket confoundedmany who in late April had been expecting incremental prices torise above bidweek levels.

Except for Rockies swing prices that seemed curiously immune tothe general softness by rising into the $1.90s, the declines rangedfrom just a few cents up to 20 cents or so in the Californiamarket. Northeast citygates tended to see only small downticks.

PG&E had a high-linepack advisory in effect but said an OFOwould not be necessary for today’s gas day. The excess suppliesallowed a marketer to pick up a late PG&E citygate package at$2.34, more than 15 cents under the bidweek average, and alast-minute Southern California border deal at $2.13 was about 20cents under index.

One source who didn’t need the gas got an incremental PG&Ecitygate offer of $2.20, which was around the top of the bidweekMalin range. Of course, Malin incremental quotes plunged also, witha marketer reporting a 1st-only deal at $2.00. However, a producersaid it was able to make a citygate sale at $2.45, only about anickel down from bidweek.

A trader was seeing Chicago baseload sinking to the mid $2.20sThursday, about a dime under most May deals. But he thoughtlast-day volumes were too small to have much effect on the index.

The rest of the May aftermarket is a tough call, a marketer toldDaily GPI. “The market has gone from ignoring the storagesurplus-as it did for most of April-to overreacting to it like wesaw [Thursday]. I’d say this market is just too wounded right nowto expect a big turnaround in the near term. However, with Chicagoprices now in the $2.20s, it is easy to see there is greater upsidepotential [than downside].”

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