Forecasts of widespread areas of cooling rain in the Midwest and Northeast — and to a lesser degree in the South — along with a cold front due to move into much of the Midwest caused prices to retreat at most points Wednesday. Tuesday’s modest 6.9-cent slide in August futures also played a minor role in the overall softness.

Northeast citygates took the biggest hits among losses that ranged from 2-3 cents to about 30 cents. The Rockies, along with several other points in the West and Gulf Coast, ran against the overall market tide by being flat to up about 30 cents.

A couple of sources said they expect rebounds at most or all points Thursday due primarily to Wednesday’s screen rally of 22.1 cents.

Other than Northwest’s Declared Deficiency Periods and minor maintenance curtailments on the Tennessee system, transportation is largely hassle-free. However, a Florida utility buyer found it hard to see why Florida Gas Zone 3 recorded one of the Gulf Coast’s rare substantive gains. Yes, Florida Gas Transmission did declare an Overage Alert Day notice Wednesday (see Transportation Notes), but after all, the imbalance tolerance is a very lenient 25%, he argued.

A Houston-based market expects cash numbers to be up 10-15 cents or so in most cases Thursday as a result of the Nymex rally. He noted that prices were moving higher in late deals Tuesday, which often is a reliable indicator of next-day price direction. He also said buying for either power generation or storage injections always seems to show up when prices fall like they did Wednesday.

Tennessee’s curtailing volumes going into the “Muskrat Line” segment of its 500 Leg is the main transport hassle his company is having currently, the marketer said, but he added that curtailments of varying degrees are occurring along most of the Tennessee system.

It’s a little early for bidweek business, but the marketer said ICE was showing an August baseload deal at Henry Hub for $6.53 (nearly 30 cents above the Hub average Wednesday).

Heating demand is “picking up a bit, but it’s not taking off,” a Middcontinent producer commented. There’s not a lot of major heat outside the Midcontinent and interior West right now, he said. According to the producer, for prices to be supported, there needs to be more cooling load in the market area rather than in the production area. For instance, he noted that Chicago is forecast to peak at 83 degrees Thursday, while both Tulsa and Oklahoma City are predicted to hit 95.

Although his own area is pretty warm, a Southern utility buyer said it seems like the eastern end of the South still isn’t seeing very many highs in the 90s. One has to get near the Mississippi River or west of it to see normal summer heat, he added. His utility will keep up normal storage injections through the end of July, but will cut “way down” after that to about a third or less of what it had been injecting.

The Reuters survey of 22 industry players derived an average 68 Bcf expectation of the storage build during the week ending July 13. Estimates ranged from 56 Bcf to 85 Bcf, the news service said. Bentek Energy weighed in with a projection of a 72 Bcf addition to storage.

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