In activity that was predictably very subdued for a day leadinginto the long Christmas weekend, prices ranged from flat to down afew cents Thursday. As one source commented, “Man, I’ve seen deadmarkets before, but this one seems to be rotting in the grave.”Somewhat in keeping with that remark, a marketer said many of hertrading partners had only “skeleton crews” in the office, andvirtually nobody was still around after lunchtime.

With a static screen providing no cash guidance, traders mostlyrelied on the low-demand tendencies of a holiday weekend and onpredictions that some areas, particularly the Midwest, would bewarming moderately to push prices slightly lower at most points.Some points, such as the Chicago and Michigan citygates, had only afew new quotes reported Thursday because of most weekend businessbeing done in five-day deals Wednesday.

The day’s big slide of more than 20 cents came at Transco Zone6-NYC as all quotes finally subsided to under $5. The point wasstill averaging in the vicinity of $4.50, though.

A marketer said the only Chicago deal he could muster Thursdaywas for delivery into the Peoples system because most other areaLDCs were closed. However, a Gulf Coast trader said only about 25%of the southeastern utilities he called were closed.

Most eastern points were still well above monthly indexes as theweek came to a close, but Rockies and California numbers hadweakened to either side of index levels. It seemed that more buyersthan usual were emerging at Opal Thursday, a western trader said,suggesting that they may have been induced by low prices to buythere for Clay Basin storage.

Many Canadians in other industries will be getting today andTuesday off because of Christmas and Boxing Day falling on Saturdayand Sunday, a Calgary source said. However, unless they get a compday at some other time, gas traders north of the border are out ofholiday luck because Nymex will be active and January bidweekbusiness will be hot and heavy both days, she said.

Basis for Chicago is all over the place, having traded from plus4 to plus 9 over the last week and a half, one marketer said. Mostrecently it has been around plus 6, he added, but few people werewilling to take a position ahead of the holiday.

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