The market was marginally stronger Tuesday as forecasts of Midwestern lows not far above freezing joined sub-freezing predictions for the Rockies and much of Western Canada in creating extra heating load. Overall temperatures, however, were expected to get no lower than chilly (40s) in most areas, and thus flat to higher numbers only modestly outnumbered losses.

Prior-day futures guidance for cash pricing was essentially neutral after May futures began their reign as the prompt-month contract by advancing only 0.2 cent Monday. Wednesday’s cash market will have only a little extra support following a screen gain of 3.7 cents Tuesday (see related story).

Points in Michigan, the Northeast, Pacific Northwest and Northern California tended to see most of the largest advances among quotes that were flat to up nearly 35 cents. Losses ranged from 2-3 cents to a little more than a dime.

A stormy forecast for the South will continue to subdue any potential cooling load in that region but also fail to prompt many residents to turn on furnaces. Most locations will peak on either side of 70 Wednesday.

A cold front is spreading from west to east through the Northeast, according to The Weather Channel, and although the low temperatures in the upper 30s and low 40s that it creates are basically seasonal for early spring, there was enough cold to increase most citygates by the teens.

There was a noticeable divide among Midwest delivery points — Chicago had a colder Wednesday forecast than Detroit, but while the Michigan-related citygates (Consumers Energy, MichCon and Dawn) were up strongly, Chicago and ANR ML-7 quotes were a bit softer.

Cold weather in the Rockies had only minimal impact on localized prices, which were mostly flat to up or down just a few pennies, but helped to spur fairly strong gains at Pacific Northwest and Northern California points. Rockies suppliers have lost a potential parking place for unsold gas for a little more than two weeks as the result of April 1-16 reservoir testing causing a suspension of injections at Questar’s Clay Basin storage facility.

At least one analyst thinks that following last week’s report of a small storage build, injection season is definitely already under way. Stephen Smith of Stephen Smith Energy Associates said Tuesday he expects a net injection of 9 Bcf to be reported for the week ending March 27, which is up from his original estimate of 1 Bcf.

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