Fueled by a smaller than expected storage injection figure,natural gas futures continued higher yesterday morning asspeculative buying easily erased the Wednesday evening price dip.The buying pressure continued throughout much of the day as bullshad their sights squarely set on last week’s high of $2.72. Theirpersistence paid off, and shortly after 1 p.m. the prompt monthpunched through and notched a $2.75 high on the day. However, notenough follow-through buying was seen entering the market, and theresulting sell-off deposited prices back down near unchanged forthe day. The August contract finished just a half-penny higher at$2.647.
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After being hit with a devastating combination of bearish newsFriday afternoon and Monday morning, traders at the New YorkMercantile Exchange had little choice when the market reopened. TheJuly contract took it on the chin, gapping lower on the open beforeposting a 7.1-cent decline to finish at $2.237. The August contractdid not fare any better, slipping 6.9 cents to $2.268. Estimatedvolume was solid with 78,116 contracts changing hands.
El Paso returned its Blanco “D” turbine (see Daily GPI, June 1) to service Tuesdaymorning, removing a 270 MMcf/d constraint on San Juan Basincapacity. A problem with turbine vibration at Lincoln Station appearsto be under control, El Paso said, and it restored San Juan Crossovercapacity to 580 MMcf/d.
May prices remained firm in morning business Thursday but weregetting softer in the afternoon after the June futures screenstarted retreating from a dalliance around the $2.40 level, a GulfCoast producer reported. However, a marketer saw little movementeither way for May numbers in western markets. And another tradersaid intra-Alberta prices “are getting wild,” reporting themstraddling the C$2.80 level Thursday.
Expiration day in the natural gas pit had a little something foreveryone Monday. While bears were greeted yesterday morning by alower open that paved the way for declines to the $1.80 level,aggressive afternoon buying put a smile on bull-traders’ faces asit led the April contract back above Friday’s best levels. But whenall the dust had settled and the final settlement price was handeddown from the data room at Nymex, neither bull nor bear could claimthe see-saw battle as a victory or a defeat. April finished downjust 0.2 cents at $1.852 and the May contract echoed that sentimentclosing 0.2 cents lower to $1.883.
The futures market continued higher Friday, but it was notwithout a struggle when morning short-covering was followed by abrief, but spirited, long liquidation early in the afternoon.However, that dip in prices paved the way for another round of”bargain buying” as some fresh longs were seen entering the fray.And just as the case has been almost the entire week, it was bullsthat ended up on top Friday, with April finishing at $1.854, up 1.9cents for the day and 15.5 cents for the week.
The strong corrective rebound of the April contract seemed indanger of coming to an end yesterday morning when the contract setnew lows for the week at $1.835, but April held and quickly resumedits upward path in afternoon trade to post a new high at $1.930 andclose the day at $1.928/MMBtu.
After briefly testing resistance in the $2.00 area Wednesdaymorning, the futures market continued its journey lower as traderswere able to look past the short-term bullish impacts of coldweather and associated pipeline operational flow orders to focus onthe longer-term implications of storage and forecasts calling forwarmer weather. The February contract finished 4.4-cents lower at$1.931.
As many traders predicted, the futures market continued lowerThursday morning amid a swirl of bearish fundamental factors, whichwere freshly updated Wednesday evening. But the dip wasshort-lived, and afternoon buying bid the spot January contractback up to test resistance, before settling at $1.84, off 0.7 centsfor the day.
After seesawing throughout most of the morning, futures pricestumbled again Wednesday as traders surveyed the threat of freshbearish fundamental news. The front-month January contract finisheddown 7.2 cents to $1.886 at the close, barely off session lows of$1.88. Estimated volume was a healthy 67,274.