After gapping higher at the open yesterday and reaching as highas $1.915/MMBtu during the day, the April contract was able tomanage only a small 0.6-cent gain for the day, telling someobservers the contract has lost its vigor after the rapid 22.5-centclimb last week. April opened at $1.905, up significantly fromFriday’s settle of $1.853, but it lost steam at $1.92 during themorning and fell back to about $1.86. During afternoon trading, thecontract bounced back up to $1.90 before falling back down to fillthe gap and close the day at $1.859.
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After breaking out of its downward trading channel and reachinga high of $2.24, the June Nymex contract fell back considerablyFriday and settled the day up only 0.8 cents to $2.167. Strongtechnical buying and position covering ahead of the weekend seemedto spearhead the rally, but the door to even higher prices slammedshut not long before the closing bell.
The May Nymex contract continued its strong charge higher onThursday, reaching a high of $2.605 before ultimately settling up6.1 cents at $2.562. More impressive than the increase, however,was the estimated volume figure. Coming on the heels of Wednesday’shigh trade volume, Thursday saw over 100,000 contracts tradinghands. This leaves little doubt speculators played a role in May’srise yesterday. Even though current Henry Hub prices are 15-20cents lower than that, the current heat wave is waking people up tothe possibility of extreme air conditioning demand this summer, ananalyst told GPI. “The supply/demand balance has been so tight forso long, that his extra demand is highlighting potential problemsthis summer. There are already problems with coal delivery inTexas, and if that continues into the summer, watch out,” he said.
Despite reaching another record of 2,899 Bcf, Canadian gasimports grew by only 0.5%, or 15.4 Bcf, last year, which was thelowest growth level in the past 11 years, according to a report bythe Department of Energy. DOE attributed the slow-down to tightimport pipeline capacity. It also mentioned prices at gas importpoints (under long-term and short-term contracts) in 1997 averaged$2.11, 10% higher than average prices in 1996. The average price ofCanadian gas at major import points rose 46% over the past twoyears, DOE said.