Prices were up again at most points Tuesday as chilly temperatures had already reoccupied the Midwest and were about to do the same in the Northeast following a warming trend that had lasted into Tuesday in some sections of the East. The cash market also had modest support from the previous day’s 3.8-cent gain by February futures.
One source suggested that expectations of a bigger-than-usual storage pull being reported for last week had something to do with cash prices being mostly firmer early this week during a period of relatively moderate weather in the East. He said a group of colleagues and trading counterparties that conducts its own internal survey of storage estimates is looking for a withdrawal in the range of 140-155 Bcf.
Flat quotes at several locations, along with a couple of declines of up to about a quarter, kept mixed price movement in play to a limited degree. Otherwise advances ranged from 2-3 cents to about 30 cents.
Lows that already were around freezing Tuesday would be repeated Wednesday in the Midwest. Temperatures will be more moderate than that in the Northeast, but that region also will be bidding adieu to the relative warmth in which it began the week.
A cold front is due in the South, but it will have limited impact on heating load. Lows will sink into the upper 30s to mid 40s in the upper sections of the South, but nearer the Gulf Coast will remain mostly in the 50s and occasionally the 60s. Florida will be especially mild with highs reaching 80 degrees or so, which resulted in a drop of about a quarter at the Florida citygate.
The Rockies can expect frigid conditions to continue, which resulted in double-digit upticks at most points there. Sumas saw Tuesday’s top gain as lows will be in the 30s Wednesday in much of British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest. Most of the rest of the West will see mostly merely cool to cold weather.
Positive prior-day screen guidance for cash quotes was growing slowly as the February natural gas contract managed an increase of 8.8 cents Tuesday.
Transportation constraints continued to be nominal following last week’s cold that generated a fairly large number of OFO-like actions.
A western trader said he had “lots to do” now after last month’s holiday slowdown of activity. “It was one of the quietest Decembers I can remember,” he remarked. Quite a few people are just coming back into their offices this week following holiday-linked vacations, he said. Still, overall the market seems kind of quiet, the trader added.
The National Weather Service looks for normal temperatures in most of the Lower 48 states during the Jan. 14-18 workweek. In its six- to 10-day forecast posted Tuesday afternoon, the agency predicted above-normal readings only along the Canadian border north of a line running eastward along the southern edge of Washington state until it dips southward in the central U.S. into Nebraska, northern Missouri, central Illinois and Indiana before returning in Ohio to a strip along the northern edge of states all the way into Maine. Below-normal conditions are expected only in Florida along with the southern half of Georgia and the southeast corner of Alabama, and also in most of New Mexico and the eastern half of Arizona.
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