It was a given that weekend prices would rise; the question was by how much. The answer: generally about 40 to 60 cents across the country, with no area left out. The Northeast led the overall advance with upticks reaching nearly a dollar.

Residents of the Midwest, Northeast and Mid-Atlantic were battening down the hatches Friday for what promised to be a test of endurance as winter storm warnings were posted from Virginia through New England and westward through the Midwest and Upper Plains into the northern Rockies.

Prices across the region gapped higher with eastern points generally vaulting 60 to 70 cents, prompting a Henry Hub hike of more than 50 cents. Even western prices ranged about 50 cents higher.

Buoyed mostly by the severe winter conditions but also deriving support from a massive screen uprising the day before and the psychological impact of a larger-than-expected storage withdrawal over a period including a two-day holiday, prices rose strongly at all points. For a change the Midcontinent saw the smallest gains of as little as thirty cents.

The Pacific Northwest already was experiencing a powerful Pacific storm Friday, although temperatures weren’t as cold as those to the east. It was expected to spread and bring rain and snow to Utah and Wyoming Saturday.

The southern tier of states was largely spared the worst of the pre-winter wrath, but still were feeling a chill. A Dallas-area trader said temperatures there were pleasant in the 50s Friday afternoon but expected to fall into the high 20s that night. And Houston was predicted to stay barely above freezing early Saturday.

Tropical Storm Odette was moving northeastward toward Hispaniola (the Dominican Republic/Haiti island) from a position about 225 miles southwest of Isla Beata on the south coast of the Dominican Republic as of 4 p.m. EST Friday, the National Hurricane Center said. The storm was expected to weaken over the mountainous terrain of Hispaniola after making landfall there sometime Saturday.

A source who seemed to have a case of sticker shock at reporting Michigan citygates above $6.00 said she hoped that the futures decline Friday was a sign that cash prices might start backing off this week.

A marketer commented that normally traders would be watching out for potential weekend OFOs by the big California utilities, but there was plenty of West Coast demand to avoid that Friday.

©Copyright 2003 Intelligence Press Inc. All rights reserved. The preceding news report may not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part, in any form, without prior written consent of Intelligence Press, Inc.