As a Gulf Coast trader had expected, Tuesday’s rise of 13.7 cents in February futures was able to boost cash prices “a little bit” Wednesday — but just barely. The market-supporting frigid weather of recent weeks was becoming just a memory for many people; although lows around freezing or less remained in the forecasts for much of the East through the Midwest and Plains into the Rockies and most of Canada, they were considered a return to “seasonable” conditions for mid-January.

Points that were flat to about a dime higher slightly outnumbered losses ranging from 2-3 cents to nearly $3.10. The Florida citygate plunge after Florida Gas Transmission ended an Overage Alert Day was something of an aberration because the next-largest declines in the Northeast didn’t exceed a little more than 35 cents. The Florida citygate continued to be the most expensive pricing point by far, however.

Spot gas can count on further screen backing Thursday. Following a weak start, prompt-month futures later rallied to post a gain of 14.2 cents on the day (see related story).

Despite pipeline restrictions related to the recent cold snap continuing to dwindle (see Transportation Notes), late Wednesday afternoon Tennessee referred to “heavy demand across the Northeast” in asking customers to match physical flow with scheduled quantities to prevent imbalances in market-area Zones 5 and 6.

Temperatures were returning to more moderate levels Wednesday afternoon in Florida, the south-central U.S. and the desert Southwest along with much of the lower two-thirds of California, according to The Weather Channel (TWC). But a rainy South was still expected to start off in the chilly 20s in most areas Thursday.

And it didn’t sound like price-softening weather when the forecasting service called for northern New England to begin Thursday with temperatures on either side of zero and lows in the 20s extending throughout the Mid-Atlantic. However, highs would be close to or above average mid-January averages, it said.

Though still rather cold, the Midwest will be relatively basking in conditions much milder than what it endured last week. And the West will be mostly just cool outside the Rockies and Western Canada.

“It’s all relative,” said a utility buyer in the South whose area was still experiencing freezing lows but temperatures were quite a bit warmer than they had been a few days earlier. His company is reassessing its storage situation, he said; generally it’s looking good for the rest of the withdrawal season, “although we may need to step up spot purchases a little” to make up for heavy withdrawals during the recent cold snap.

The buyer didn’t see much colder weather returning during the rest of January. The local forecast projected normal to above-normal temperatures in the six- to 10-day forecast, which would be mostly in the 40s and 50s, he said.

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