Natural gas cash prices Tuesday for Wednesday delivery were uninspired except for in the Northeast, where some points flirted with $2 gains as forecasts turned cooler and power prices surged. February futures gained 8.2 cents to $3.455 and March was higher by 7.5 cents to $3.453. February crude oil fell 86 cents to $93.28/bbl.
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As the stock market suffered its eighth straight day of losses Friday and the Dow flirted with the 8,000 mark, several more domestic oil and natural gas producers reported that they were cutting their planned capital expenditures (capex) for the rest of the year and/or 2009 and were rolling back their drilling programs or postponing planned acquisitions in order to preserve capital liquidity. Producers said they also had taken steps to shore up their bank credit lines.
Downward price momentum from Tuesday spilled over into trade on Wednesday as natural gas futures flirted with support in the mid $12.60s. One day before expiration, the July contract recorded a low of $12.654 before closing out the regular session at $12.753, down 25.8 cents from Tuesday’s finish.
A week after the June natural gas futures contract flirted with breaking below the $6.00 mark, the July contract in Thursday trading was able to poke its head above the psychological $7.00 level before coming back to settle at $6.819, up 3 cents for the day.
The energy history books will record 2003 as the year that some big energy companies — Williams Cos., El Paso Corp. and Dynegy Inc. — avoided the clutches of bankruptcy, said a leading energy analyst.