With prominently plunging exceptions such as Dominion, Niagara, some Northeast citygates and San Juan-Blanco, most of the cash market continued to drive higher Tuesday while residents of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic began to dig out from under a Presidents Day blizzard that set snowfall records. Advances ranged from about a dime to about 30 cents, with most points measuring their gains in the 20s.

Sources tended to have a generally softer outlook for Wednesday due to moderation of weather conditions that had already begun Tuesday and was expected to continue. “It’s a good bet” for lower prices, said a Northeast trader who added that Texas Eastern and other pipes into the region were already telling him to expect an easing of transportation restrictions. “We’ll get a brief reprieve [from the cold], then look for another bout of winter towards the weekend.” Even though some are forecasting rain instead of snow late this week, it probably will be cold enough to freeze, “which is just what we need: a sheet of ice,” he said wryly.

The prognosis was rather similar for the Midwest, although a bit of snow and sleet can be expected in the upper Ohio Valley Wednesday, according to The Weather Channel. Otherwise regional temperatures are likely to be seasonal until a new blast of arctic air arrives around Friday.

Mild to seasonal readings are expected to continue for much of the South and West, although a cooling trend was developing in the Pacific Northwest.

One producer’s Dominion North Point quote in the low $11.40s Tuesday commanded an unusual premium of nearly a dollar over his Algonquin citygate deal.

A Gulf Coast marketer observed that although a very cold weekend had been anticipated in the Northeast Friday, almost nobody seemed to be looking for such an extreme holiday storm and it caught a lot of people off guard. “Our Northeast trader got a lot of pager calls Monday for intraday supply, but it was very hard to transport into the market area,” he went on. Naturally, anyone who could move gas there got a good premium for their effort.

In contrast to the Northeast situation, the marketer could find no demand in Florida at all, saying, “Heck, some utilities there are selling their gas.”

Despite the relatively sedate market conditions in the West, a regional trader said the situation back East reached across the country. For instance, Malin was fetching an unusual premium of a little more than a nickel over the Southern California border because of strong intra-Alberta numbers that resulted from provincial gas seeking to go east into the Midwest and Northeast rather than south. Also, he said, “No one would quote any basis trades to me today [Tuesday] because so few people could get into Nymex to trade. Usually I can get a [basis] number with no trouble, but will have to wait until Wednesday this time.”

Looking ahead to this week’s storage report, Tim Evans of IFR Pegasus expects a withdrawal of 150-170 Bcf. Meanwhile, Kyle Cooper of Salomon Smith Barney said his final estimation is for a more bullish draw of 189-199 Bcf, which would compare to a year-ago figure of 126 Bcf and a five-year average of 95 Bcf.

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