Prices went another few cents higher for no apparent reason yesterday. Most of Thursday’s advances ranged from a couple of cents to about a dime, but Malin, intra-Alberta and several Rockies/Pacific Northwest points tended to see larger upticks.

Several sources seemed resigned to a generally sideways-trading market for a while, at least until next week’s AGA report. Because the report will incorporate data from the long Labor Day weekend, it is expected to reflect another big leap in storage inventories. Barring a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico, that likely will put prices back on a downward slope, a couple of marketers said.

Other than moderately warmer temperatures returning in the Southeast, weather-related demand remains listless. One forecasting service even said that higher elevations in the Rocky Mountains states are likely to see snow by the weekend.

A marketer who trades the Northeast thinks prices might be firming this week in the face of weak fundamental support because “the market is trying to find an equilibrium” after having fallen so far and fast from the spectacular heights of late 2000 and early this year. “We’re finding a temporary resting place for consolidation before testing new lows later,” he said, adding, “The weather sure can’t get much more bearish than it is right now.”

Although PG&E did not issue an OFO, its projection of linepack falling to minimum target levels today helped boost Malin numbers and, to a lesser degree, PG&E citygates, a western trader said. “Actually, low linepack readings are good to see near the end of the week because you know the system will be getting packed over the weekend,” he said. There’s still “decent demand” in California, he said, but agricultural processing activity should start winding down towards middle of September, which should erase a sizeable amount of Golden State load.

Erin, which had been downgraded to a tropical wave, regained enough strength Thursday afternoon to be reclassified as a tropical depression. It was still about 725 miles south-southeast of Bermuda and on a track to come ashore in one of the Southeast Atlantic states, however, and thus remained immaterial to the gas market.

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