Although there were several scattered flat to lower prices in Tuesday’s cash market, most points rallied in defiance of milder weather trends and prior-day screen weakness.
Upticks ranged from 2-3 cents to nearly 35 cents. Losses ran as high as about 15 cents, but most were around a nickel or less. Many of the biggest gains occurred in South and East Texas, while softness tended to be a bit more prevalent in the West.
Heating load hasn’t entirely disappeared in northern market areas, but there wasn’t a whole lot left with Northeast highs predicted to be mostly in the 50s Wednesday and the Midwest expected to experience temperatures in the 50s in its northern sector and in the 60s towards its lower end. Thermometer levels will be five to 15 degrees below average in much of the West, but snow will be confined to the mostly sparsely populated Intermountain area.
Meanwhile, it’s going to stay downright balmy in the South with highs warming into the 70s for most of the region Wednesday and the 80s are possible in central Florida and South Texas. Undoubtedly some air conditioners are being turned on in the South, one source noted, but he didn’t believe there was enough cooling load yet to account for Tuesday’s moderate firmness in cash quotes.
The screen’s decline of 22.3 cents Monday might have been expected to suppress the physical market Tuesday, the source continued, but obviously that didn’t happen. The fact that April futures recovered a good deal from its early-session low Monday may have created a little bullish attitude among cash traders, he speculated, also pointing out that several points such as the Chicago citygate had been rising in late deals Monday.
The cash market can count on some Nymex support for Wednesday. On its penultimate day of trading the April natural gas contract rebounded by 14.7 cents. Nymex’s petroleum-based futures offerings also were very strong, with May crude oil leaping by nearly $2 to settle at $66.07/bbl as global geopolitical concerns and refinery problems continued to roil the oil market.
A Gulf Coast producer said there was “no real reason that I know of” for most prices going higher, adding that it seems like the screen drop Monday and more spring-like weather developments in much of the U.S. and Canada would have prevented it. He said he “would guess” that cash numbers will go a little higher again Wednesday. Some Gulf Coast points saw prices rising near the end of trading Tuesday, but not all, he said.
The producer said his company has already done some April deals, but as of Tuesday bidweek was “moving kind of slow.” He reported these basis deals done Tuesday: Transco Station 65 at plus 6 cents; Tennessee 800 Leg at minus 12 cents; and ANR Southeast at minus 15.5 cents. It’s not unusual for Transco to command a hefty lead in Gulf Coast pricing, he said; it has a premium market area and also charges lower fuel costs than other pipes in the area. Basis movement since Monday was mixed, he said, but overall was “just a tad bit stronger” Tuesday.
Next week should be pretty mild for the eastern two-thirds of the U.S., according to the National Weather Service’s forecast for the April 3-7 workweek. The federal agency expects above normal temperatures everywhere (except the southern end of the Florida peninsula) east of a line running northward from the western tip of Texas through eastern New Mexico and Colorado into western Nebraska, central South Dakota and the southeast corner of North Dakota. Below normal readings are predicted everywhere west of a line running northward through central Arizona into western Utah, southeast Idaho and the western edge of Montana.
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