Natural gas prices continued their roller coaster ride last weekwith changes in near- and long-term weather forecasts, and acolder-than-normal winter season which could lead to physicalshortages, according to Salomon Smith Barney’s weekly E&Pforecast. However, even though E&P shares declined 7% onaverage last week, there’s still plenty of gains to be had thisyear by both large and small players.
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The price roller coaster continued in the natural gas pit at theNew York Mercantile Exchange Thursday as traders went through themotions of checking the latest hurricane forecast and then tradedaccordingly. Yesterday that translated into selling, by trade andlocals alike, as they reduced their long exposure on the news thatDebby had weakened into a tropical wave.
On reflection, the most surprising aspect of the past two monthsof California’s roller coaster electricity prices is that thepeople who pieced together the state’s power deregulation plans —state legislators and regulators — are voicing the loudestconcern about the first real dose of free-market price volatilityfelt by retail mass consumers, who, it might be added, are alsovoters. In a free market, heavy demand butting heads withconstrained supplies will result in the blood of high pricessplattering everyone.
Bungy jumping, yo-yoing and roller coaster riding are allactivities that have very much in common with what has been goingon in the gas pit at the New York Mercantile Exchange this week.Many observers expect more of the same until near-month futureseither take out support at $3.80 or bust through resistance at$4.55, “a nice friendly little trading range.”
“It’s been a fun market recently if you like roller-coasters.” AGulf Coast marketer was referring to Thursday pricing that onceagain started significantly lower but later moved higher to settlenear the top end of daily ranges. Softening continued at mostpoints but was very mild compared to the larger drops earlier thisweek. A majority of the declines were about a nickel or less, and afew scattered points even turned in flat performances.