Most cash trading points were down 2-5 cents Thursday, bowing tothe mild temperatures prevalent east of the Rockies and to thescreen’s retreat of nearly 3 cents. Declines at several pointsmatched the amounts by which they had risen on Wednesday. Thesmallest drops tended to be in the West

An aggregator reported a Michigan citygate (Consumers Power) at$2.35, just a couple of cents above Chicago deals. Another sourcesaid the Midcontinent pipes were mostly in the low $2.20s, with ANRleading the pack at $2.23 and NGPL’s Midcontinent pool falling intothe high $2.10s

Several sources again described the incremental March market asquiet because so many players have shifted their focus to April.Index and basis deals still dominated April trading Thursday, butmore fixed price quotes were emerging

General Midcontinent basis of minus 11-11.5 puts those pipesright above the $2.20 level, a marketer said. But the numbers couldcome under pressure to soften into the $2.10s today either withbasis widening or the screen coming down, he added

If the April futures contract slides a few more cents againtoday in expiration-day activity, one marketer looks for physicalgas sellers “to come out with an ax to grind.” They will do allthey can to unload their positions, afraid that Monday could bringa real falloff, he predicted

However, a Midwestern buyer thinks current price levels shouldremain strong even after the April contract goes off the board.Surprisingly there are a lot of buyers out there even insummer-like weather, he said. The most likely reason is storageinjection demand, the buyer surmised. “People are looking at thecurrent [futures] strip and saying, ‘Okay, what is my cheapestmonth?’ And they come up with April, and decide to buy Aprilphysical gas for storage.

Chicago basis talk of plus 5.75 for April seems like an “awfullybig” number to a trader who thinks the basis will tighten today

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