Weather that either was already bringing snow or was expected todo so soon in several regions, accompanied by some initial screensupport, pushed the cash market sharply higher Thursday at nearlyall points. Only the PG&E citygate and Southern Californiaborder registered drops amid overall gains of about 50 cents ormore. Many of the larger increases were clustered in the snowyRockies/Pacific Northwest.

However, the midweek price rally may be running out of steam.The screen eventually turned softer, and there was doubt aboutwhether upcoming winter weather would be severe enough to sustainhigher numbers.

Several cash traders professed to have no clue about why thescreen rose during the morning and then went into negativeterritory in the afternoon, although a source knowledgeable aboutfutures explained it as a technical sell-off. But the turnaround infutures probably means cash price movement will be choppy andgenerally to the softer side for a while, said one marketer. Heexpects Midcontinent pipes to return to the $5.70-80 area over thenext few business days.

A western trader thought impending softness likely was signaledby a sizeable price downturn in Thursday’s late deals. She quotedan early San Juan-Blanco purchase around $6.60 but said a later onewas about 20 cents lower.

Asked about the screen going sour, a Northeast-oriented marketerthought it was “more a question of why was it higher in the morningthan why did it fall later.” Substantial weather fundamentals forhis market area are still a ways off in the future, assuming theywill arrive at all next week, he said. He called current activity a”rocking chair-type market,” largely inspired by New York Citydaytime temperatures approaching 50 degrees.

One source reported a couple of Midwest citygate baseload dealsrunning a few cents above his swing quotes at the same points. Hesaid he probably wouldn’t have done the baseload trades if theyhadn’t been available on EnronOnline. EOL is posting baseloadoffers more frequently recently, he said, adding, “They seem to dothat about every third month.”

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