Some sources seemed to think the cash market was manufacturingprice increases out of nothing Thursday. Others, however, said mildsupport from the futures trading pit combined with a cold frontmoving towards the East Coast to generate price firmness rangingfrom flat to up about a nickel. For a change there was nogeographic pattern in the market as the price gains tended to bescattered across all regions.

“We’re just sitting here watching the screen” because there waslittle else happening to influence cash trading, a Gulf Coastmarketer said. He and other sources thought the market may besettling in for another period of low price volatility similar tothe one that dominated March activity. One trader said he waswaiting for “another move to get going on Nymex; this latest one[Thursday’s rise of a little over 4 cents] wasn’t enough.”

The company bonus from recently strong gas prices “is I get tokeep my job,” a Gulf Coast producer told NGI. Screen strength wasabout the only thing cash gas had going for it, he said. However, amarketer reported fairly heavy citygate demand in the Midwest,where temperatures have gone south in the last couple of days.Chicago deliveries in the low $2.20s led Midcontinent field numbersby 15-17 cents.

A Houston marketer was pleasantly surprised by the Gulf Coast’sability to resist turning lower now that the Zone 1 outage ofFlorida Gas Transmission is ending. “Despite the excess supply,there was good incremental demand at the north end of many of the[pipeline] systems,” he said. “New England, Ohio Valley, Michiganand Wisconsin utilities were seen buying in the spot market ratherthan diverting some of their baseload purchases, which have beenearmarked for storage.”

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