This week’s market started out looking suspiciously like the one preceding it, with prices rebounding solidly Monday from weekend softening. But a couple of sources doubted that last week’s run of rising prices right on through to till the weekend arrived will be repeated, particularly with a holiday weekend approaching.
Monday’s advances ranged from about a nickel to a quarter, but the ones of less than a dime were fairly rare. Traders cited lingering chill across the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, Upper Plains and Rockies states; returning industrial load after a weekend let-up; and continuing storage injection demand as the chief reasons for the market’s gains.
A Northeast marketer saw one more factor, saying a lot of people had gone into the April aftermarket with short supply positions, “so there’s good incremental buying with the weather turning out cooler than they may have expected.” The Northeast is staying on the cold side, he said, because of a mass of arctic air “bleeding” into the region. Temperatures are running five to 15 degrees below normal and there’s been more much rain than usual (occasionally mixed with snow) over the past six days to help keep things cool, he said, adding in jest, “In fact, I saw Noah loading animals into his ark this morning.”
The marketer also pointed to price support from power generation, saying real-time electricity prices had run above $100/MWh in NEPOOL (New England) Monday. However, he thinks natural gas quotes will start softening again pretty soon due to moderating weather trends and a three-day weekend starting Friday.
A trader in the Upper Midwest counted herself as among those who don’t expect this week’s initial bullishness to last as long as the four-day streak of the previous week. It had stayed cold and windy through Sunday with a low in the 20s that day, but conditions should be a bit more moderate going forward, she said, although local temperatures might not get above the 40s this week.
For someone working the intrastate Texas market, it must have been storage purchases supporting Katy numbers “because I don’t see any utility load.” He also said “the pipeline people” have been buying heavily recently (which he presumed was for storage injections) “and running up prices early each day” except for last Friday. Nothing has really changed in generally weak market fundamentals lately, he commented, so it was hard to understand why prices are staying up.
A utility buyer in Florida said her job is very easy right now because “I didn’t have much to buy” with almost no weather load to satisfy.
In his final estimation of this week’s storage report, Citigroup analyst Kyle Cooper said he looks for the first net build of the season, pegging a 1-11 Bcf injection range. That would contrast with a year-earlier withdrawal of 6 Bcf.
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