Enron Corp. is in shreds, literally and figuratively, with a week marked by dramatic accusations, the founder quietly resigning, and a former vice chairman tragically dying from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. As Congress began its intense investigations of the company and its auditor, Arthur Andersen, there only was one tiny bit of good news for the company and its supporters. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York approved a deal for UBS Warburg to pick up its quickly fading wholesale energy trading unit.
Articles from Dramatic
Amid two momentous selling waves, natural gas prices tumbled lower in dramatic fashion Thursday, as traders looked past bullish weather forecasts to focus on the undeniably bearish supply situation. Sellers were fast out of the chute as profit-takers pressured the January contract to a gap-lower open. However, that was only the beginning. After it was announced that only 81 Bcf had been drawn from storage last week, the heavy selling resumed. The January contract settled at $2.555, down 12% or 35.6 cents for the day.
Although it was nowhere near as dramatic as the price move thatdeposited prices near all-time winter lows, last week’s futuresgains-slowly and steadily-were gaining the attention and acceptancefrom both technical and fundamental traders. And despite a largestorage surplus and continued uncertainty about winter weather, ifprices are able to trend higher into the New Year, the market willlook back at last week’s rebound as the end of the downtrend. Theprompt January contract chopped higher Friday, making daily highsby noon before softening into the closing to finish up a penny at$2.074.
Fueled by what one veteran trader called one of the mostdramatic price moves in the history of the natural gas market,futures prices rallied Monday as the prompt January contractsettled up 12.3 cents to $2.101. But that daily change paled incomparison to the enormous advances seen in the cash market wheredaily gains registered more than a half-dollar for many pipes.Forecasts calling for cooler temperatures for most of the countryand undervalued cash prices were reasons for the market strength,sources agreed.
Following Monday’s dramatic price rout, Tuesday’s tradingexhibited a more sedate demeanor, leaving the December contract totrade within a narrow 6.5-cent range. And while the late-afternoonsell-off had bulls running for cover Monday, consolidation of thoselosses gave them a ray of hope before the close yesterday. Thatrebound was enough to lift the prompt month 3.6-cents to $2.478.
Dramatic spot price changes are expected throughout the U.S.over the next two years following the construction of proposedmajor gas pipeline projects and development of gas reserves tosupport them. A new analysis released yesterday at GasMart Power’98, NGI’s annual energy conference, by ICF Kaiser focuses on howprices and volumes would shift following several likelydevelopments: the construction of Alliance Pipeline along withexpansions of Foothills/Northern Border, construction of the Vectorand Millennium projects to move gas from Chicago to East Coastmarkets, completion of the Sable Island project and associatedMaritimes and Northeast Pipeline moving gas down the East Coast andincreased gas production in the Gulf of Mexico.