It had seemed that Wednesday afternoon’s large screen uptickfollowing the storage report might be the tonic needed by alistless cash market to regain its previous strength Thursday.Instead, a humongous Nymex downturn and fresh forecasts thatweather next week might not be as cold as anticipated combined tosend most cash prices lower by a dime or so. Gains were rare andsmall.

The screen’s 47-cent drop and the typical demand slump of aweekend period are likely to accelerate Thursday’s moderatesoftness today, sources said. Heating oil and crude oil futures,which had shared the gas contract’s firmness Wednesday, also weredeclining Thursday.

“Somebody was making a lot of noise about a warm-up comingaround the Thanksgiving weekend,” commented one marketer about thefutures sell-off. However, the National Weather Service did notappear to agree. Its latest six- to 10-day forecast projected belownormal temperatures for the densely populated eastern third of theU.S. It will be normal for most of the rest of the nation, NWSsaid, predicting the only above normal condition would occur in theUpper Plains, which is often among the coldest regions during thewinter season.

Although some points began the morning strongly, the price trendnearly everywhere was steadily downward due to the futuresinfluence, several sources agreed. “Nobody wanted any gas atChicago towards the end,” complained a Midwest marketer. “Instead,they wanted to sell us storage gas.”

A Henry Hub trader who saw his deals drop more than 20 centsinto the mid $5.70s from start to finish agreed that virtually allbuyers had disappeared near deadline. Hub gas for the weekend wasalready trading in the mid $5.50s during the afternoon, he said.

Northwest’s “must-flow OFO” requiring certain amounts of gas tobe taken south through the Kemmerer (WY) Station had relativelylittle market impact, said one trader reporting Sumas falling tothe mid $8.00s in highly volatile activity. “I think most peoplehad already made the kind of supply arrangements Northwest waswanting,” he said. Intra-Alberta numbers were generally flat in themid C$7.60s, the trader added. Some people still have extra gas ontheir hands because of the latest Alliance delay, he said, but theABC (Alberta/British Columbia) border constraint ends today,providing a larger outlet for pent-up supplies in Alberta.

Although he was exaggerating hugely, a Colorado-based marketersaid, “It’s like a tropical heat wave here today [Thursday]compared to what we had earlier this week.”

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