The cash market Friday played catch-up to the 18-cent screen advances seen Thursday and added 16 cents on average for weekend and Monday gas. All points posted gains. Moderate Friday temperatures in the East and Northeast were forecast to give way to cooler readings and New England and East points led the charge higher. May was able to hold on to Thursday’s meteoric advance and added 0.7 cent to $4.408 and June gained 0.5 cent to $4.437. May crude oil gained 28 cents to $88.01/bbl.
Balmy Friday temperatures along the Eastern Seaboard were seen falling below normal over the weekend and into Monday. Trouble-plagued Boston should see it’s Friday high of 75 slide to 58 Saturday and 55 on Monday, according to AccuWeather.com. The normal high in Boston is 57 this time of year. New Haven, CT’s Friday reading of 67 was expected to slide to 61 on Saturday and 54 by Monday. The normal high in New Haven is 59.
Quotes at the Algonquin Citygates for weekend and Monday deliveries jumped 81 cents to $5.35, and deliveries to Iroquois Waddington added a stout 41 cents to $5.34. On Tennessee Zone 6 200 L gas was seen at $5.32, up 83 cents.
Analogous high Friday temperatures at eastern points were also forecast to ease over the weekend. AccuWeather.com predicted that Friday’s high of 70 in New York would fall to 60 on Saturday and 56 on Monday, 6 degrees below the seasonal high. Philadelphia’s high of 78 on Friday was seen dropping to 62 on Saturday and 59 on Monday. The normal high in Philadelphia for mid-April is 65.
Gas deliveries to Tetco M-3 added 19 cents to $4.53, and weekend and Monday parcels on Dominion rose 14 cents to $4.32. Gas bound for New York City on Transco Zone 6 rose 18 cents to $4.56.
The National Weather Service in New York City said, “a cold front will move east across the area after midnight followed by high pressure Saturday. The strong high pressure builds northeast of the area into Monday [and] weak low pressure is expected to move slowly up the middle Atlantic coast and affect the region Monday night through Tuesday night. Another frontal system may affect the region Wednesday night into Thursday. High pressure builds back into the area for the end of the week.”
Cash prices in the Rocky Mountains have surged along with other points, and a producer senses it might be an opportune time to lock in prices. “It’s management’s call, but I wish they would lock in some of these higher prices,” a producer said. “It looks like we’ve got one more good storage report and then it is curtains. The weather has been terrific. It’s the middle of April and it has been 10 degrees colder in Chicago. That’s where it really helps. A snowstorm in Pierre, SD, doesn’t do us much good.”
He added that the industry was expected to lose 2 Bcf/d to coal switching, “and Tudor Pickering says it could be as much as 5 Bcf/d. Either way, it is not going to be pretty.”
Quotes for weekend and Monday gas on CIG added 13 cents to $4.15, and gas at the Cheyenne Hub was seen 11 cents higher at $4.20. Packages at Opal rose by 12 cents to $4.17, and gas on Northwest Pipeline Wyoming rose 13 cents to $4.13. Deliveries on Questar were up 15 cents to $4.09.
Futures traders saw a bullish hue to the day’s finish. “We thought prices might fall to $4.35 or so, and it looks like the bulls are still in the market,” said a New York floor trader.
“We have guys that are looking at the $4.45 level, which I think will be some resistance. We aren’t hearing a lot of talk about retracement, and I thought you might have seen it today just on profit-taking ahead of the weekend, but we didn’t see it so its actually a good sign for the market.”
Weather forecasts going into the weekend showed broad coolness ranging from Wyoming and Colorado to West Virginia and Ohio and extending from Canada to Mexico. “Dallas is slipping toward the upper 30s with Houston in the 40s this morning as the vanguard of a cool southern weekend air mass drops through the area,” Matt Rogers, president of Commodity Weather Group, said Friday.
“Another strong cool surge is still seen for the middle of [this] week, but that one is forecast to be weaker (40s versus 30s). Like before, the main impacts of these late-season cold outbreaks are in the Plains, Midwest and South, with only diluted leftovers for the East Coast. The main heat continues in the West, but the models fluctuate on intensity impacts at the coast (Pacific Northwest to Southern California) with maybe some slightly weaker signals today. The 11-15 day is mostly in early May now and shows more variability like a transient warm push into the Midwest and East that should provide a bigger break to persistent overnight elevated heating demand.”
With a cold pattern in place, analysts suggest the resulting impact on storage is likely to lay the groundwork for further gains. “Although [Thursday’s] storage injection [report] was only some 2-3 Bcf below average industry expectations, the market responded assertively via a sharp price pop of almost 20 cents, or roughly 5%. This strong response underscores the dramatic shift in the balances that has developed during the past couple of months due to unusually cold temperature patterns that have been sustained through the month of April,” said Jim Ritterbusch of Ritterbusch and Associates.
“The strength also highlights the need on the part of non-commercial accounts to acquire a balance between longs and shorts that would better align with a deficit supply situation that is in sharp contrast to a surplus that existed across last year. With each successive attainment of new highs, additional technical triggers are ignited and any remaining institutional shorts are forced to further pare bearish holdings. While we had expected some supportive impact off of the fact that the year over year deficit would be contracting for a change, the fact that an 800 Bcf shortfall was reduced by only 10 Bcf appeared to further embolden the bulls. Within such an environment, some additional upside price risk would appear to exist, especially in view of a lack of overhead resistance until about the $4.61 area per nearest weekly futures charts.”
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