September natural gas futures limped lower in dull trading Friday as analysts suggested that the market was not showing signs that it was capable of advancing further. At the close September natural gas had eased 4.8 cents to $4.060 and October had slid 5.6 cents to $4.071. September crude oil dropped 34 cents to $85.38/bbl.
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The trial of Enron Corp. founder Kenneth Lay and ex-CEO Jeffrey Skilling moves into its fourth week on Tuesday, and while it has at times been dull and colorless, the pace picked up last week following a stern request by U.S. District Judge Sim Lake to hear “questions” and not just “statements” by the trial lawyers.
Until yesterday the February aftermarket was rather dull and stodgy, with small price movements up or down (mostly up) characterizing each trading day. But the pattern got broken Tuesday with upticks consistently in the range of 15-20 cents reported for both eastern and western points. Larger gains of 30-50 cents were recorded in the Northeast, with a few citygate points seeing WACOGs above $3. (Intra-Alberta and Westcoast Station 2 were also above $3 in Canadian dollars.)
Another dull day in the gas market. That’s how sources tended toview trading yet again Wednesday as flat prices prevailed, withtiny gains tending to outweigh a few tiny declines. Unlike Tuesday,when traders could point to the screen’s uptick as a motivator forcash firmness, Wednesday’s fall of about a nickel in the Henry Hubfutures contract appeared to have no impact on the cash market. Acontinuing lack of significant weather demand left sources graspingfor ways to explain the relative strength of cash prices.
Lack of activity was the popular excuse for the mostly stagnantprice levels during Monday’s cash market trading session. Mostsources agreed that moderating temperatures along with aslow-moving Nymex screen were to blame. With the exception of theRockies and intra-Alberta gas, which registered the only notabledeclines of the day, cash prices generally started the new weekflat to up or down a penny or two across the board.
The May Nymex contract continued to slowly rebound from itsmassive price downturn on Monday by closing Wednesday up another2.0 cents at $2.521. Trading was held to an extremely tight range,as the spot month could only post a high of $2.555. Total volumewas estimated at 255,671 contracts.