People saw the screen start higher Monday morning and “everybodywas off to the races,” a Midcontinent marketer said. Priceincreases were across the board but by widely varying amounts, evenamong neighboring pipes in a region. Everything basically followedthe Henry Hub futures contract, according to a Northeast trader.However, he and other sources agreed that virtually every point wasbacking off near the end of activity. “People just quit buyingafter the screen run-up,” he said.
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May baseload prices were tanking on the last morning of tradingThursday, and May swing numbers for either the 1st only or 1st-4thwere “really pathetic,” as a Midcontinent marketer so delicatelyput it. The plunging June futures screen was an obvious drag oncash trading. The early weakness of the May aftermarket confoundedmany who in late April had been expecting incremental prices torise above bidweek levels.
Marketers were greeted last Thursday morning to something theyhadn’t seen all last week: unequivocally bearish indicators. Ahealthy storage injection, small futures retracement, and wiltingdemand ahead of a holiday weekend had sellers fast out of the chutelooking to unload their gas before the market cratered. This leftprices down anywhere from a couple of cents to almost a dime.However, one source said there was a certain “warm and fuzzy”feeling about trading this week and he looks for continued strengthMonday.
If bullish natural gas futures traders became excited when theMay contract moved above the $2.70 mark yesterday morning, theirenthusiasm was tempered following the spot month’s daily close of$2.689. Although this represents a daily gain of 2.1 cents, onetrader is concerned that futures prices will be falling in the daysto come. “I was hoping a break above $2.70 would lead to a move to$2.80, but traders seemed pretty quick to slam the door. It lookslike profit taking has started ahead of the long holiday weekend,”he said. The New York Mercantile Exchange will be closed for GoodFriday.
The cash market hemmed and hawed again Tuesday morning, leavingprices virtually where they were last Friday. However, the futuresmarket would not go quietly. After a fairly unremarkable session tostart the week, the bulls once again had their way, pushing the Maycontract up more than 13 cents for the day(please see futures story). Cash prices were mostlyimmune to the strength.
California’s retail electric market kicks off in the earlymorning hours today (March 31) with the state-chartered wholesalespot market, the power exchange (PX), processing a market-clearingprice and generation schedules for another newly created statepublic benefits organization, the independent system operator(ISO), that will run the state transmission grid.