Flat — or close to it — numbers reigned in the cash market Thursday as forecasts for freezing-or-less lows ranging from the Northeast through the Rockies dueled with moderate conditions in most of the southern U.S.

Unchanged quotes were the norm for many trading locations. A loss of nearly 20 cents at the Florida citygate was the only significant decline other than about a nickel in the Rockies. Otherwise, quotes ranged from flat to about a dime higher, with nearly all of the gains in single digits.

The Energy Information Administration’s report of an 11 Bcf injection into storage during the week ending March 19 jibed well with consensus analyst expectations. Although it signaled extra buying prior to the traditional April 2 start of injection season, Nymex traders detected a bearish note as they sent the April futures contact 12.4 cents lower on the day beginning the three-day settlement period (see related story).

Although Canada and many of the northern sections of the U.S. will remain chilly going into the weekend, it appears that spring is about to have sprung in a lot of more southerly locations.

California prices were mostly close to flat as PG&E ended an OFO and SoCalGas extended one through Thursday (see Transportation Notes).

A Texas marketer said prices are looking “pretty much flat” for April. He thinks more people are getting bidweek business done earlier than before.

He expects Nicor to have premium Chicago citygate pricing because of its current restrictions on deliveries. He reported deals into NIPSCO at index plus 3 cents, and fixed Chicago prices around $4.04 Thursday. Transco Zone 6-New York basis was going at plus 34.5 cents, he said.

A Midwest utility buyer said weather was getting warmer and the company’s load was going down as a consequence. However, the utility was still withdrawing from storage both because of Northern Natural Gas not beginning its official injection season until June 1 and it was starting liquefaction of supplies for its LNG (liquefied natural gas) tanks.

She reported buying Northern Natural-demarc gas for April at index minus 0.5 cent Thursday.

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