Natural gas pricing Tuesday was widely varied with the overall market showing an average loss of a dime. Once the high-flying New England pipelines such as Algonquin, Tennessee and Iroquois are factored out, however, the market actually showed a gain of 13 cents.
Eastern points were especially hard hit as power prices weakened and gas into New York City suffered multi-dollar losses. March futures rose 8.4 cents to $3.399 and April added 8.1 cents to $3.450. March crude oil gained 47 cents to $96.64/bbl.
Next-day power prices at eastern points fell hard. IntercontinentalExchange reported that power for delivery Wednesday to the New York Independent System Operator’s Zone G (eastern New York) receipt point fell $41.82 to $100.96/MWh. At PJM West, serving the Mid-Atlantic and Ohio Valley, next-day power fell $2.65 to $36.85/MWh.
Temperatures in the area were forecast to hover just below normal. Wunderground.com forecast that the high in Boston Tuesday of 30 was expected to rise Wednesday to 37, right at the seasonal norm. New York City’s Tuesday high of 37 was anticipated to reach 41 Wednesday, one degree above normal.
Snowy, turbulent weather was forecast for parts of the East. The National Weather Service in New York City said “a weak wave of low pressure will produce periods of light snow through tonight [Tuesday]. High pressure builds into the region on Wednesday then moves to the north and east on Thursday. Low pressure develops off the middle-Atlantic Thursday night into Friday…and passes east of the area Friday night. High pressure builds in from the west over the weekend. A frontal system then approaches from the west on Monday.”
“They [Boston] may be getting some snow Wednesday and then Thursday it may get a little chillier,” said an eastern trader. The trader said the “power guys started out pretty low this morning. It’s not clear whether the gas is leading the power, or the power is leading the gas. It’s just little [weather] things moving through, one day at a time.”
Algonquin Citygate gas for Wednesday fell $2.11 to $15.50, and deliveries into Iroquois Waddington shed $1.27 to $8.20. Parcels quoted on Tennessee Zone 6 200 L fell a dollar to $15.23.
At Tetco M-3, next-day gas slipped 29 cents to $3.73, but deliveries on Transco Zone 6 to New York tumbled $2.48 to $10.67. Gas on Dominion gained 7 cents to $3.36.
Points away from the Eastern Seaboard gained. In the Midcontinent deliveries to the NGPL Midcontinent Pool rose a nickel to $3.27, and gas on Oklahoma Gas Transmission gained 6 cents to $3.22. On Panhandle Eastern gas for Wednesday delivery rose 5 cents to $3.27.
At Rocky Mountain locations prices were also firm. On CIG gas was seen at $3.32, up by 6 cents, and at Opal deliveries of Wednesday gas gained 6 cents as well to $3.36. On Northwest Pipeline WY next-day parcels rose 7 cents to $3.34.
Analysts saw Tuesday’s futures gains as primarily weather-driven. “[S]ome of this strength may have represented spillover from strong equities and higher oil values, [but] we feel that the larger element is increasing evidence of a cold wave of air that will be moving into the Midcontinent later next week,” said Jim Ritterbusch of Ritterbusch and Associates.
“Apparently, the market has duly discounted an upcoming warm spell that will be concentrated across the eastern half of the U.S. during the coming week. However, we still see the advanced stage of the heavy usage cycle combined with a major supply overage against normal levels as restricting additional upside price progress through the rest of this month.
“Price action of the past week appears to be suggesting that the large speculators will be demanding an extended period of warm air, fresh price lows or a sizable rally to above $3.40 before adding to a sizable net short position,” he said in closing comments to clients.
Forecasts overnight turned somewhat cooler. WSI Corp. in its morning six- to 10-day outlook said, “Today’s [Tuesday’s] forecast is cooler than yesterday’s outlook in the Deep South while warmer in the Northeast and for portions of the interior West.”
WSI sees the main risks to the forecast as “colder temperatures than forecast in most of the western through south-central U.S. toward the end of the forecast period.”
Addison Armstrong of Tradition Energy suggested that the firm open was due to “cold weather that is forecast for the primary gas-consuming regions over the coming days provid[ing] a boost to the market.”
From a technical perspective he said “the 50-day moving average ($3.441) is on the verge of crossing back below the 100-day moving average ($3.421) in the coming days, which could lead to a fresh round of technical selling.”
Mike DeVooght, president of DEVO Capital said, “Fundamentally not much has changed in the gas market. We do feel the highest probability is for the gas market to continue to trade in the $3-4 range over the next few months. We will look for rallies above $3.60 to resell this market.” DeVooght said to “sell any winter months above $3.75-3.95 [for a] (light position).”
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