Cooling the streak of price firmness exhibited on Monday and Tuesday, natural gas cash averages across the United States dropped for the second straight day on Friday as summer-like temperatures dominated much of the country and Thursday’s news of an early start to the storage injection season began to fully sink in.
Articles from Firmness
Following Tuesday’s drop of 15.3 cents in December natural gas futures and Thursday’s firmness despite a bearish 78 Bcf storage injection report, traders appeared content to finish the week on a quiet note. On Friday the front-month contract traded between a morning high of $3.847 and an afternoon low of $3.769 before calling the whole thing off and closing at $3.783, up five-tenths of a penny from Thursday’s regular session close. December’s close was 14 cents lower than the previous week’s finish.
With a wee bit of help from prior-day screen firmness, gradually growing demand for power generation gas supplies to keep air conditioners running caused most cash market locations to realize substantive increases Tuesday. Even though odds of a Bay of Campeche low-pressure area becoming a named tropical storm didn’t get raised to 90% until well into the afternoon, just the chance of that happening so early in hurricane season may have been a modestly bullish factor to some traders.
Price drops got larger and occurred across the board Thursday after several instances of firmness had remained a day earlier. An ongoing moderation of temperatures in northern market areas combined with a prior-day dip of 9.3 cents by prompt-month futures to further the cash market weakness.
Monday’s slight firmness in the face of still-mild weather in most areas likely was due in part to traders looking down the road a bit and seeing forecasts of colder temperatures. With the change to more bullish weather influences drawing closer, traders pushed all but one point higher Tuesday.
Recent cash price firmness eroded a bit further Thursday as the number of softer points began to approach equilibrium with those continuing to make slightly firmer performances. However, small gains remained dominant.
Prices dropped across the board Friday as forecasted weekend temperatures were not enough to sustain further firmness in the cash market. Instead, Thursday’s prompt-month futures dip of 13.9 cents, along with the usual weekend decline of industrial load, proved to be stronger influences on physical quotes.
Cash prices had continued to put up a brave front through Monday with modest firmness overall, but the bullish facade could not be maintained Tuesday. Instead, losses that were mostly measured in double digits reigned across the board as more prior-day futures softness, a downgrade of prospects for the season’s first named tropical storm entering the Gulf of Mexico and forecasts of small reductions of cooling load in several regions ganged up on the physical market.
Thursday’s burst of extremely mild firmness in most of the cash market proved to be short-lived as prices fell at nearly all locations Friday. Spring-like weather was spreading to more areas, and the previous day’s decline of 12.4 cents by April futures and the typical weekend drop of industrial load also depressed spot gas numbers.