Mixed price movement returned to the cash market Friday as several points, mostly in the West and Northeast, saw drops ranging from a couple of pennies to a little more than a nickel. But most points continued to record small gains that again depended on a prior-day futures increase and continued to defy modest weather-based load in most areas.

The weekend decline of industrial load may have helped induce the small losses at some locations.

Most points were flat to a little more than a dime higher. Flat quotes were quite common, and nearly all of the gains were limited to about a nickel or less.

Monday’s cash market will continue to have modest screen support after the October futures contract rose another 3 cents (see related story).

The National Hurricane Center greatly upgraded prospects for development of a tropical wave about 400 miles west of the Cape Verde Islands, saying it had become better organized. The agency said Friday afternoon there was a greater than 50% chance of a tropical depression forming in the area during the following 24 hours “before upper-level winds become less conducive.”

The weather hot spots were largely unchanged: the desert Southwest and interior California. Florida and the New Orleans area would continue reaching highs around 90 during the weekend, but some other areas of the South were cooling again after a recent warming and most of the region would be limited to the mid 80s or less.

A bit of heating load was expected to continue in the upper Northeast with peak temperatures only hitting the mid 60s and some lows remaining in the mid to high 30s. Otherwise, the Rockies continued to rise to merely cool conditions after an early-week chill, and moderation continued to dominate the outlook for the rest of the market.

A Midwestern utility buyer said her area was experiencing “a few heating degree days” recently, but not enough to make a difference in gas throughput. Monday of this week should be noticeably chillier than usual, but otherwise the forecast is generally moderate through the early part of October, she said.

The buyer said her utility had bought most of its October baseload at Northern Natural-demarc for index plus 0.5 cent, and a little at the pipeline’s Ventura point also at index plus half a penny. Demarc and Ventura have been trading at near parity lately, she noted, which is interesting because last year at the beginning of winter Ventura had commanded a premium of about $1.50. Now it’s looking like Ventura is slightly less than a dime above Demarc, so she would expect more gas to be flowing at Ventura than before.

Inland California will stay pretty hot for a while, a western trader said, but October is mostly a light-demand month for the Golden State. He noted October bidweek deals Friday in the mid $4.00s at the PG&E citygate, and said El Paso-San Juan was trading in the mid $3.40s, “which seemed to be dropping off a bit.”

SunTrust Robinson Humphrey/the Gerdes Group analysts said they “preliminarily” expect a storage injection on either side of 65 Bcf to be reported for the week ending Sept. 25, which they noted would be below both last year’s hurricane-affected 87 Bcf injection and the 68 Bcf five-year average. “Notably, next week’s number carries some psychological significance as natural gas inventories are set to surpass the all-time high of 3,545 Bcf” set in 2007, they said.

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