Prices began the week with a mixed performance Monday. Flatnesswas dominant at most points, with small drops outweighing smallgains at others. Mild weather throughout much of the nation lent nofundamental support to gas demand. However, sources saw a goodchance for at least modest increases today based on Monday’sfutures uptick.
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The futures market wasted little time in continuing higherMonday, gapping higher on the open en route to a technicalcorrection that left the September contract up 16.4 cents to settleat $2.041. Sources said Monday’s rally was follow-through buying onthe heels of Friday’s strong close coupled with “nervousspeculators” covering sizeable short positions. Estimated volumeconfirmed the active trading with an estimated 83,239 contractschanging hands.
Cash prices softened a bit Tuesday in mostly featureless tradingas major markets in the Midwest and Northeast cooled off. Themajority of points saw prices ranging from flat to down about anickel with no single region standing out as especially strong orweak. About the only exception to that general rule wasintra-Alberta, which started off around Monday’s C$2.04-05 averagebut quickly ramped up to near the top end of Monday’s range andwound up gaining about a nickel overall, a marketer reported. Forwhatever reason provincial field receipts have been lower thanexpected this week, she said, although only a few plants are stillundergoing annual turnaround maintenance.
The futures market wasted little time continuing lower yesterdayadding to losses registered Wednesday evening following the releaseof the weekly AGA storage report. That report, showing alarger-than-expected 93 Bcf injection gave storage bears somethingto chew on. The August contract opened near its high then tumbled9.9 cents to settle at $2.132 in active trading yesterday.
With little to go on in the way of guidance, cash prices muddledaround in an essentially flat performance. There were scattered upsand downs, but no point moved by more than a nickel in eitherdirection and most changes were minuscule.
The August natural gas futures contract slipped 1.1 cents to$2.439 Thursday, as traders scrambled to finish their businessahead of the long fourth-of-July weekend. “Today was pretty muchjust position covering ahead of the weekend,” a broker told GPI. “Idon’t think anyone was too concerned with, or had the goal of,moving August outside of its trading range,” he said. For thatreason, he was not surprised to see technical support at $2.38hold.
The July Nymex contract went off the board in wild fashionFriday, as the spot month reached a high of $2.45 before plummetingto a low of $2.33 just before the closing bell. Despite thevolatility, July’s final $2.358 settlement price left the contractdown just 0.6 cents for the day.
Bulls have had very little if anything positive to talk aboutlately with respect to gas prices at the New York MercantileExchange. Mild June temps, a healthy storage level, and amplesupply have weighed on the market since the current downtrend beganon April 9th. So it comes as no surprise that upon the release ofthe less-than-expected 86 Bcf AGA storage injection, bulls sawtheir first opportunity in a while to push the market higher. Thefirst thrust was registered in Wednesday night’s ACCESS session.Then, after opening higher yesterday, the contract traded in a neat5-cent trading range settling at $1.970, up 4 cents for the day.
Pricing was “pretty much the same as it was yesterday,” said aSouth Texas producer Friday reporting flat numbers in the low$2.10s. Most points traded flat to 2-3 cents up or down, with a tadmore downside than upside. Several sources agreed it was a quietand essentially featureless market. A big aggregator called it”mostly a dead day; there seemed to be a lot of people out of theoffice.”
Flatness and mild softness dominated the late-April cash marketMonday. Enough heating load was being generated in the Northeastand Midwest to keep citygates and a number of field pointsessentially unchanged from Friday. Most of the downticks of 2-5cents again occurred in the West, where mild temperatures wereprevailing.