Physical gas prices Tuesday overall on average added about 6 cents with nearly all points experiencing gains. Midwest points were firm as an exiting storm still made itself felt in the form of 30 mph gusts and typically constrained points in the Northeast also made outsized gains. The expiring March futures contract exited on a modest note, and at the end of trading March had risen 1.3 cents to $3.427 and April had fallen 1.4 cents to $3.456. April crude oil lost 48 cents to $92.63/bbl.

Great Lakes marketers had delayed buying gas to balance accounts by the end of the month, but customer usage eventually prompted purchases. “We had to pay $3.65 and $3.67 on Consumers, and it wasn’t a pretty price,” a Michigan buyer said.

As bidweek progresses, both buyers and sellers are confronted with the question of how much gas to lock in at March index versus how much to buy on the spot market. “We were kind of thinking March [weather] could be similar to February, but we will be going heavier with index purchases than for February.”

The Great Lakes region was expected to endure below-normal temperatures as it faced the trailing edge of a storm headed eastward. Tom Skilling, a meteorologist at the Chicago Weather Center, predicted that late Tuesday “rain and sleet mixes and then changes to wet snow and becomes heavy at times later [in the] afternoon and evening, tapering to lighter, more occasional snow by late night. Snow accumulations of 3 to 7 [inches] possible by late Tuesday night. Strong winds may promote blowing and drifting.”

For Wednesday Skilling forecast that the “departing storm system circulates occasional snow into the area [and] temps hold nearly steady in the lower 30s. Biting north to northeast winds near 30 mph add to the chill.”

Tuesday’s high in Chicago of 36 was expected to fall to 33 Wednesday. The normal high in Chicago is 39 at this time of year.

Elsewhere in the area, temperatures were expected to be normal or above. forecast that the high in Cleveland Tuesday of 41 would rise to 45 Wednesday, well above the area’s normal high of 38. In Milwaukee, WI, Tuesday and Wednesday’s highs were expected to remain right at 36, the seasonal norm.

Quotes for Wednesday gas at the Chicago Citygates rose 6 cents to $3.66, and deliveries on Michcon were higher by a nickel to $3.66 as well. Gas on Consumers came in at $3.64, up 3 cents, and on Alliance Wednesday parcels were seen at $3.65, up 7 cents. Deliveries to the Dawn terminal rose 4 cents to $3.80.

Wednesday gas prices in the Northeast rose as rain and snow was forecast for the area. Farther south, temperatures were expected to be well above normal.

The National Weather Service in southeast Massachusetts said “High pressure will move off over the Maritimes this evening [Tuesday]. Low pressure over the Ohio Valley will slowly move over New York and New England into Wednesday…bringing rain and accumulating snow to New England. While unsettled weather will continue into the end of the week…the weekend is looking dry. Another round of showery weather is possible Monday into Tuesday…as a coastal storm may be lurking for the end of the first week of March.”

Gas at the Algonquin Citygates gained 99 cents to $7.19, and deliveries to Iroquois Waddington improved by 7 cents to $3.98. On Tennessee Zone 6 200 L next day packages gained 71 cents to $6.91. predicted that the high in Boston Tuesday of 40 would rise to 43 Wednesday, 2 degrees above the normal seasonal high, but in New York Tuesday’s relatively balmy 52 was anticipated to rise to an unseasonal 61 on Wednesday, 17 degrees above normal.

Gas on Dominion rose 3 cents to $3.51, and deliveries on Tetco M-3 were up a cent at $3.73. Gas bound for New York City on Transco Zone 6 dropped 11 cents to $3.79.

Tim Evans of Citi Futures Perspective saw the day’s futures trading “as though it is consolidating recent gains, with mixed adjustments in the latest temperature forecasts. Today’s March contract expiration also suggests a preoccupation with book squaring, [and] Trading volume may not pick up until Thursday’s DOE storage report.”

With Monday’s double-digit gain, futures have now advanced 10% in just over a week, eliminating about all of the February sell-off while traders factor in strong end-of-winter weather along with idled nuclear power plant production estimated at more than 15%.

Evans calculates the storage draw for the week ended Feb. 22 at 171 Bcf and by March 15, the year-on-five-year surplus will be down to 178 Bcf.

Evans said the declining surplus “could be enough to expand the upside a bit from the $3.50-3.60 level we’ve been looking for to perhaps $3.70-3.80. We suggest standing aside for the anticipated move higher, and then looking for a low-risk entry onto the short side of the market for what could be the larger move down.”

Longer-term weather forecasts changed little overnight. WSI Corp. of Andover, MA, said, Tuesday’s 11-15 day “forecast is relatively similar to the previous forecast, with exception of slightly cooler temperatures over southern central Canada and slightly warmer temperatures over the Southeast.”

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