Buoyed by a late short-covering rally natural gas futuresstruggled back up to just below unchanged yesterday as traderschose to wait on the sidelines ahead of the release of freshstorage data. The closing up-tick was the only feature bulls couldstomach in a market preoccupied by continued mild weather acrossmuch of the country. The February contract finished down 0.8 centsat $2.168 following a session that saw prices match Tuesday’s $2.20high but plumb a half-cent below Tuesday’s $2.13 low.
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Buoyed by cash market buying interest, natural gas futuresshuffled higher Friday as traders covered shorts ahead of theweekend. After opening at $2.755, the November contract climbedbriskly to its $2.82 high shortly after 11 am EDT. Once the initialbuying push subsided, the spot month moved mostly sideways for therest of the session to settle at $2.793, a 4.9-cent gain for theday.
Buoyed by a much firmer screen and the pickup in load thatfollows a long Labor Day weekend, cash prices rose Tuesday by anickel or more at almost every point, with most of the increasesexceeding a dime. Not only did natural gas futures rise more than adime, but the crude oil futures contract for October also flexedits muscle with a jump of slightly over 60 cents, placing it wellabove $22/bbl, a marketer pointed out.
Buoyed by strong demand for physical supplies and aggressivebuying under last week’s price chart gap, the natural gas futuresmarket continued to whittle away at last week’s collapse. Theremaining three months of the millennium received almost equalbuying interest Tuesday, with October, November and Decemberadvancing 11.6, 11.9, and 11.6 cents respectively. Estimated volumewas hefty, with 81,210 contracts changing hands.
Buoyed by another day of strong demand in the physical market,the futures market trended higher Friday in a choppy, range-boundtrading session. After opening just two pennies above Thursday’slow of $2.67, the September contract rumbled 2.2 cents higher onthe day to finish at $2.745.
The cash market resumed its climb Thursday, buoyed by a risingHenry Hub futures contract, a tightening supply situation,spreading cold weather and air conditioning load from Texas throughthe Southeast. A “lean” storage report Wednesday afternoon added tobullish sentiment, a marketer said.
Light short-covering buoyed the futures market at the openFriday, as traders exited positions ahead of the holiday weekend.However, sellers above the $1.80 level were waiting and pushed theprompt month to a lower close. The February contract slipped 1.3cents lower to close at $1.796 in Friday’s abbreviated tradingsession. The New York Mercantile Exchange will be closed Monday inobservance of Martin Luther King Day
Enron Oil & Gas second-quarter earnings were hit by weak oilprices but buoyed by stronger gas prices. Second quarter 1998 NorthAmerican wellhead gas prices averaged $1.96/Mcf, up 9% versus anaverage of $1.80/Mcf in the second quarter of 1997. North Americancrude oil and condensate prices were $12.82/barrel for the secondquarter of 1998, down 32% as compared to $18.89/barrel a year ago.