March natural gas is expected to open 13 cents lower Monday morning at $2.17 as overnight weather forecasts took a hard moderate turn for key population centers. Overnight petroleum markets plunged.
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June natural gas is expected to open 4 cents lower Monday morning at $2.84 as traders see little in the way of near-term weather patterns sufficient to move the market and await the opportunity for producers to mitigate their risk. Overnight oil markets were mixed.
The Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC), which represents hundreds of exploration and production companies, midstream operators and supply chain businesses in Pennsylvania, is planning to stage the largest rally in its six-year history at the state capital next week to tout the benefits of shale gas development.
The cash market Wednesday staged a broad rally of 15 cents with only a half-dozen points falling into the loss column as Old Man Winter refused to let go even with the first day of spring only a week away.
Cash prices overall staged a broad rally Monday with an average gain in the double digits. Northeast and West Coast points were notably strong as power generation was reported as lean and next-day loads were forecast to increase. Gulf and eastern locations were also strong. At the close of trading December futures had fallen 7.1 cents to $3.719 and January had lost 6.7 cents to $3.837. January crude oil vaulted $2.36 to $89.28/bbl.
Cash prices overall were 7 cents higher Monday on average as prices staged a broad rally with only a handful of points in the loss column. Midcontinent, East, and Northeast locations were strong. Futures trading was generally lackluster for the early part of the session, then declined as traders absorbed a survey showing expectations of lower prices next week. At the close November had fallen 16.5 cents to $3.452 and December had slumped 17.9 cents to $3.768. November crude oil slumped $1.32 on its last trading day to $88.73/bbl.
Seeing a rally in natural gas prices that could push them up to the $3.50 to the low $4 area in the next two to three years, Princeton, NJ-based NRG Energy Inc. senior executives speculated Wednesday that there may be the beginning of a reversal of the ongoing coal-to-gas switch for power generation, particularly in the Texas market in which NRG is the second biggest generator.
Physical gas for weekend and Monday delivery staged a broad rally Friday with overall market gains on average of more than a nickel. Rockies and East Texas points were strong, but most Northeast and Eastern locations were solidly in the win column as well. Futures made it to new highs, giving new life to the bullish case. At the close of futures trading August had risen 8.2 cents to $3.081 and September was 9.5 cents higher at $3.076. August crude oil fell $1.22 to $91.44/bbl.
Wednesday’s minimal gains proved to be an accurate harbinger of a three-day market rally coming to an end. A flat Westcoast Station 2 was the sole exception to falling quotes at all other locations Thursday as the previous day’s 12.7-cent drop by prompt-month futures joined generally pleasant early-fall weather in applying downward pressure to physical gas numbers.