Wednesday’s market was something of a mirror image of the one on Tuesday, with a majority of locations shifting to reverse gear. Flat numbers were common again, but while small gains had dominated Tuesday, more points were recording small increases Wednesday. Heating load is relatively scarce at this point as most areas experience a fairly mild prelude to the official start of winter, and traders were mindful of the upcoming storage report being bearish in comparison to year-ago and five-year average withdrawals.

The Midcontinent was home to most of the scattered points that were flat to about a nickel higher. Losses ranged from 2-3 cents to about 70 cents; all of the double-digit ones occurred in the Northeast. However, in a signal that the region’s weekend weather would be getting colder, Algonquin was encouraging shippers to either stay in balance or run positive imbalances, while affiliate Texas Eastern said a similar action would become effective in its M-3 market-area zone Friday.

January futures had plenty of negative guidance for Thursday’s cash trading after falling 14.3 cents (see related story).

Rockies producers’ hopes that Ruby Pipeline might return to service Wednesday, the possibility of which was indicated a day earlier, were dashed as Ruby said the procurement and installation of a necessary block valve meant that sometime in the Saturday through next Wednesday period was the soonest that the outage might end (see Transportation Notes).

Flat quotes for Line 300 in Tennessee’s Zone 4 signaled that Monday’s big drop had indeed been a passing market anomaly.

Westcoast continued to report low linepack in its system.

A Midwest utility buyer said this week had been rather warm so far, but his service area would be turning colder Thursday with lows in the 20s forecast. The company is using storage and winter term contracts to supplement its spot gas purchases, he said.

A flat Chicago citygate recorded a large volume decline in trading on IntercontinentalExchange, going from 967,800 MMBtu Tuesday to 789,600 MMBtu Wednesday.

The weakness of prices Wednesday was signaled to some extent by the Bentek Energy U.S. Natural Gas Hub Flows chart. It found nominated volumes for Wednesday’s gas day to be up only slightly at five of 23 the major trading points that it covers, with another six flat or down only 1%. The sole significant increase was 216,000 MMBtu at Waha, up 32% from the day before, with the next largest being a mere 16,000 MMBtu at the MichCon citygate (2%). There were several major declines: Columbia Gas (TCO), down 436,000 MMBtu (10%); Texas Eastern M-3, down 400,000 MMBtu (11%); Transco Zone 4, down 284,000 MMBtu (9%); and the Chicago citygate, down 129,000 MMBtu (5%).

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