Despite a return of spring-like weather bringing cool to mild temperatures to the South, wintry conditions occasionally abetted by snowfalls proved sufficient to rally a majority of points Tuesday, although flat performances were common and most of the gains were in single digits.

Many locations were flat while gains at others ranged from 2-3 cents to about 75 cents. Scattered declines were all less than a nickel. Despite freezing lows being fairly scarce in the region’s forecast, the Northeast was home to most of the larger gains.

The 95-cent drop by Line 300 in Tennessee’s Zone 4 Monday may have been something of a fluke as the location recorded Tuesday’s largest rebound and had a low-end quote of $2.75, in contrast to Monday’s $1.60.

Nymex traders provided a smidgen of support for Wednesday’s cash business. After starting in the red, January futures inched higher during the day to wind up with a gain of 2.5 cents (see related story).

Rockies traders apparently were getting a handle on the temporary loss of Ruby Pipeline due to a fire at a Utah block valve yard (see Daily GPI, Dec. 13). After recording large losses Monday, the first trading day after the Ruby outage was announced, Rockies points were flat to nearly 15 cents higher Tuesday. Although there was no guarantee about it, Ruby operator El Paso Corp. said intraday nominations into Ruby might become available as early as Wednesday (see Transportation Notes).

Westcoast reported its linepack trending toward undesirably low levels, which likely was a result of replacing supplies for the Pacific Northwest and Northern California in the absence of Ruby Pipeline.

A large part of the South will get no colder than about 50 Wednesday, according to The Weather Channel, while South Texas and southwestern Florida can expect balmy highs in the 80s. Meanwhile, although below-freezing lows are tending to diminish, there are enough low-end temperatures in the 30s and 40s elsewhere to keep many furnaces turned on.

The end of a PG&E low-inventory OFO (see Transportation Notes) caused citygate prices to fall a couple of cents Tuesday after rising 6 cents a day earlier.

Expectations for the Energy Information Administration’s storage report Thursday are wide-ranging, which is to be expected after many analysts missed the exact numbers by substantial amounts over the previous four reports.

Stephen Smith of Stephen Smith Energy Associates said he expects a storage withdrawal of 94 Bcf to be reported for the week ending Dec. 9, which is up slightly from his original estimate of 94 Bcf. IAF Advisors analyst Kyle Cooper projects a pull of 88 Bcf, while Credit Suisse’s Stefan Revielle looks for the volume to be 102 Bcf. Tim Evans of Citi Futures Perspective had one of the lowest estimates at 86 Bcf, which he expects to be followed by draws of 102 Bcf, 78 Bcf and 109 Bcf for the weeks ending Dec. 16, Dec. 23 and Dec. 30, respectively.

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