At first glance Thursday’s market looked similar to the one a day earlier: mostly small gains outweighing minor losses. However, there were fewer and smaller double-digit increases Thursday, while at the same time there were more and larger declines. The trend hinted at the possibility of cash numbers ending the week the same way they started, with softness dominant.

The Northeast, where a recent shift to cooler temperatures would see relatively little change Friday, again led price moves that were flat to about a quarter higher. However, gains of less than a dime were more frequent in the region, and the largest increases were considerably smaller than those on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, drops ranging from 2-3 cents to a little more than a dime proliferated. The Midcontinent-Midwest market, already on the verge of recovering rapidly from a quick-hitting cold blast, recorded most of the larger losses.

The screen may give milder weather forecasts for the South and Midwest a fight in influencing which way prices go Friday. The Energy Information Administration’s report of a 19 Bcf addition to storage during the week ending Nov. 11 fell short of consensus estimates that centered around 26-27 Bcf. Initially bullish Nymex reaction appeared to fade a bit around midday but later rebounded enough for December futures to post a gain of 6.6 cents to $3.410 on the day (see related story).

The futures strength widened its basis spread over Henry Hub to nearly 35 cents after the benchmark Nymex delivery point was flat at just over $3.10.

The 2011 Atlantic hurricane season is slightly less than two weeks from its official end, and from the lack of any significant activity this week it appears that Sean may have the distinction of being the season’s last named storm.

Forecasts posted Thursday on the bulletin boards of Northwest and Kern River indicated low temperatures in many sections of the West dipping below freezing by Saturday in the pipelines’ respective service areas.

Ruby deliveries at Malin were down only a penny or so on IntercontinentalExchange (ICE), while ICE volumes for Ruby dropped from 264,000 MMBtu Wednesday to 226,900 MMBtu Thursday.

A marketer in the Upper Midwest said her area was experiencing some overnight freezing conditions and a few snow flurries, but it was insufficient for her company to get any spot purchase orders from shivering clients. MichCon is waiving its limits on storage withdrawals for the rest of November, she said, adding that so far the month’s weather has been moderate enough that many would be unlikely to make extra withdrawals, but the waiver might be advantageous for some.

As on Wednesday, major increases in scheduled volumes at key trading points again greatly outweighed declines Thursday, according to Bentek Energy’s U.S. Natural Gas Hub Flows chart. Several points realized very large gains Thursday: Texas Eastern M-3, up 783,000 MMBtu (31%); Columbia Gas, up 682,000 MMBtu (20%); Transco Zone 6, up 163,000 MMBtu (11%); Chicago citygate, up 147,000 MMBtu (5%); and Waha, up 138,000 MMBtu (14%). That was only partially offset by decreases of 319,000 MMBtu (40%) at Northern Natural-demarc and 306,000 MMBtu (Florida citygate), Bentek said.

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