The swing trading pattern immediately following Christmas didn’tseem very much different from the days preceding the holiday: agenerally softer market, with declines of up to a dime Monday atmost points, arrayed against conspicuously higher prices fordeliveries into the New York City area. One thing that did change,however, was generally flat numbers for the Rockies and California,markets that had participated in the overall weakness last week.

Transco Zone 6-NYC prices rose about a quarter into the $4.70sin highly volatile trading that ranged over more than a dollar andincluded a few quotes above $5. Sub-freezing temperatures were evencolder than much of last week, one source said, and deliveriescontinued to be limited by transportation constraints on Transcoand in Tennessee’s Zone 5. Even though Transco was allowing 25MMcf/d of IT through the Linden (NJ) bottleneck as of Monday untilfurther notice, she said, it wasn’t enough to cap the New Yorkmarket. However, she and another trader agreed that a Zone 6-NYC”correction” is definitely in the cards with a warming trendapproaching; the Linden IT volume could shoot up to 100-200 MMcf/dany day now, the other trader said.

Other than generally lower prices, Monday tended to be a ratherfeatureless trading day with not much action, said a buyerreporting all Chicago citygates within a penny to either side of$2.40. That was largely due to quite a few traders remaining out ofthe office on holiday, she said. Another source saw considerableweakness remaining in the late-December market, saying Chicagoprices could reach the $2.10s before the month is out. “I thinkthere was a little too much hype over ‘normal’ weather conditions,”she said. “There is still some strength in the day market thanks toNortheast citygates, but once that goes, I’m not sure where anystrength will come from for cash prices.”

A Houston-based producer said the relative dearth of tradingpartners kept January bidweek activity minimal also. “I’m not goingto get my feelings hurt that so few people want to trade Januarygas with me today [Monday] because it seems to be the samesituation for just about everybody,” the producer said.

A western trader reported January basis of plus 5-7 for theSouthern California border; minus 10.5-10 for Waha; and minus 3-2for Northern Natural-demarc. The border basis has risen since lastweek “because of the board [futures screen] getting beat up sobadly.” Similarly, another source said Chicago basis had firmed toplus 7.75-8 for much the same reason.

Two sources concurred that Permian and San Juan-Blanco basislevels were approximately equal around minus 13.5. A marketer washearing Permian fixed pricing at $2.15, but said he expected thatto fall before he begins making purchases. A Gulf Coast/Northeasttrader also expects some softening in January prices this week.

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