As expected, prices fell Thursday by a nickel to a dime at mostpoints. There was carryover momentum from Wednesday’s late cashsoftness that was pushed along by a drop on the futures screen, amarketer said. A lack of buyers also contributed to the marketweakness, he added. However, he saw Midcontinent prices onPanhandle Eastern, NGPL and ANR rebound to $2.08 after sliding aslow as $2.04 earlier in the day. That and the screen’s afternoonupticks have the marketer looking for upside potential in today’scash trading.
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Amid a day one broker called “perhaps the most boring of any Iremember,” the spot June NYMEX contract nudged 0.4 cents lower tosettle at $2.200. The broker actually said the day was interestingin that a large amount of anticipated activity never materialized.”Every floor trader we spoke to expected when June broke below$2.18, tons of sell stops would kick in between $2.15-17. But therewasn’t diddly squat for stops. In fact, just the opposite happenedin that there was pretty good scaled-down buying once June hit$2.15,” he said.
Cash prices tended to make modest gains Thursday, with most ofthe strength concentrated at Texas points where significant airconditioning load is developing. Houston’s heat index shot up to102 degrees in the afternoon, said a local source. That caused ShipChannel numbers to rise a little over a nickel to the $2.20 area.Waha prices also benefited from the statewide heat and also roseslightly more than a nickel into the low $2.12s. However, late Wahaprices were tailing off slightly, a marketer said. The Texasheat-related upticks carried over into the Permian and San JuanBasins in a domino effect, another trader said.
The May Nymex contract lost 2.1 cents to $2.501 Wednesday amidone of the most active non-expiration days in exchange history. Anestimated 93,649 contracts changed hands, many of which were tradedafter May fell back from its new all-time high trade of $2.56. “Mayhad pretty good resistance at $2.58, but I think funds were anxiousto take profits,” an analyst told GPI.
Small decreases of 2-5 cents were the order of the day Tuesdayat most trading points, although a few managed to hang in there atflat levels. Moderating weather played some part, but the screen’sretreat late Monday along with another small drop Tuesday set thesofter mood, sources said.
Although the most recent estimates from the Energy InformationAdministration show gas consumption so far this winter to be up1.7%, or 1.28 Bcf/d, from the same period last winter (Novemberthrough February), the warming effects of El Nino continue to put adamper on gas and energy use. Since the beginning of November,population weighted heating degree days as calculated by theNational Weather Service have averaged about 10% fewer than normaland 7.6% fewer than last winter. But since Jan. 1, there have been20% fewer heating degree days than normal (1,438 HDD compared to1,801 HDDs) and 15% fewer than last year (1,683 HDDs). Heatingdegree days are calculated by measuring the differences between themean daily temperatures in 200 cities across the U.S. and 65degrees. Every region of the country has had fewer HHDs than normalduring the months of January and February.
Prices ranged from flat to down a few cents Wednesday, with mostof the softness concentrated in the Gulf Coast, Midcontinent andChicago citygates. Columbia-Appalachia joined those points indeclines of mostly 3-6 cents, but CNG and Northeast citygates weredown only a penny or two. The declines tended to be attributed to”tracking the Nymex,” as a marketer said.