Generally moderate weather predictions, such as the Chicago area reaching the low to mid 50s Tuesday, didn’t suggest any likelihood of spot prices increasing Monday. But cash traders either thought otherwise or were looking ahead to near the end of the week, when cold fronts would be moving into such areas as the Midwest.
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Generally moderating forecasts for Friday that had The Weather Channel’s website asking “Late December…or Fall?” in its daily headline Thursday were a factor in Northeast quotes joining the softening trend that had begun on the previous day in the rest of the market. A small prior-day futures loss contributed a bit to downturns by all but a couple of trading locations.
Generally minor softness has lasted only one day this week so far, as a large majority of locations resumed climbs Thursday that once again were mostly in single digits. Patches of snow and rain stretched from the Rockies to the Northeast and snow was even expected to reach the panhandles of Oklahoma and Texas by Friday. Subfreezing lows will become more frequent at least through Friday before many areas begin to warm again.
Generally, conditions are not as cold as they will get later in the week, but prices found enough demand for heating purposes to record gains at a sizeable majority of points Monday. The restoration of industrial load following its usual weekend dip was an additional, albeit minor, price booster. Mixed price moves were dominated by flat to about 30 cents higher numbers, with all of the double-digit gains confined to the Rockies and Northeast.
Hardly any area can claim to be as much as “warm” any more, but generally seasonable temperatures dominating the near- to intermediate-term weather outlook early in the fledgling heating season resulted in dropping prices across the board Friday. The weekend decline of industrial demand and the bearish nature of the previous day’s storage report were additional market depressants.
Support from hot weather remained generally meager for the end of August, but the cash market relied on a prior-day rise of 7.9 cents by October futures and forecasts of a potential hurricane entering the Gulf of Mexico production area to rally by often-substantial amounts at all points Wednesday.
Not surprisingly, the modest rally of the previous two days came to an end Thursday as generally moderate weather, prior-day futures weakness and a demand-killing hurricane ganged up to cause spot prices to decline across the board.