A slow and undistinctive trading session Thursday yielded amixed bag of prices that leaned mostly to the slightly softer side.The small declines tended to occur mainly at Eastern points, whilethe West generally was flat to a little higher. Sources continuedto chant the litany of “no weather, no demand.”
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In what a few sources described as some of the quietest tradingthey had seen in quite a while, cash quotes fell anywhere from 2cents to a dime or so at Eastern points Monday. In contrast,numbers were generally flat to slightly higher for the Rockies,Southwest basins, California and intra-Alberta.
Prices continued to weaken at nearly all points Tuesday in boththe incremental and October bidweek markets. Offshore supplies wereslow in returning from hurricane-related outages, but tradersseemed to discount that factor and to depend on abundant gaselsewhere to take up the slack. They also observed that weather andstorage fundamentals remain weak.
A casual glance at the futures table — its narrow trading rangeand its small daily change — would lead one to believe Wednesdaywas a relatively quiet expiration day at Nymex, during which theAugust contract was ushered off the board at $1.942. ButWednesday’s trading was anything but ordinary. Traders wereinundated by a host of technical and fundamental factors, leadingto “very choppy” trading and heavy volume of 116,428.
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.
Aside from a mostly weather-related boost to cash prices inCalifornia and a supply-related recovery in San Juan prices, Juneincremental trading finished its last trading session flat to downa couple of cents almost across the board. Moderating temperaturesin areas experiencing record setting readings over the weekend andreduced end-of-month activity resulted in the minor softness.
A number of traders were experiencing early cases of the”Summertime Blues” Monday due to what they perceived as a verylackluster market. “It will be easy to report the prices todaybecause they’ve hardly budged” from Friday, a Gulf Coast marketertold Daily GPI. Another source quoting flat to slightly lowerChicago citygates in the mid $2.00s noted he was “just sitting hereyawning.”
Lack of activity was the popular excuse for the mostly stagnantprice levels during Monday’s cash market trading session. Mostsources agreed that moderating temperatures along with aslow-moving Nymex screen were to blame. With the exception of theRockies and intra-Alberta gas, which registered the only notabledeclines of the day, cash prices generally started the new weekflat to up or down a penny or two across the board.
Following a frenetic week of April trading featuring near20-cent price swings and unusually high volume in both futures andcash markets, Monday’s market exhibited a calmness that remindedtraders April is a shoulder month. But, regardless of the smalllosses and lack of excitement generated yesterday, prices are stillat their highest levels since the December bidweek and as much as80 cents above year ago levels.