The Department of Energy (DOE) said last week that it plans tosend the long-awaited Clinton administration’s legislation onretail choice for electricity customers to Capitol Hill in thelatter half of March.
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The March futures contract lost 5.3 cents to settle Wednesday at$1.765, thanks to what sources believe was a combination of weaktechnical and fundamental factors. “Today’s drop in the Marchcontract was actually a response to a failure at the 18-day movingaverage for March of $1.824,” one trader said, although otherschimed in many people sold ahead of what they thought would be abearish AGA storage report. Sure enough, the actual report came inat 78 Bcf of withdrawals, which is “significantly” lower than the102 Bcf of gas withdrawn during the same period last year.
It was still freezing and snowy in much of the Midwest andNortheast Thursday, but cash traders continued to bank on anapproaching warming trend that has been ballyhooed since thebeginning of the week. Prices fell by about a nickel to a littleover a dime in across-the-board softness. The Martin Luther KingDay weekend (in which some apparently are getting a half-day offthis afternoon in addition to the actual holiday Monday) added tothe general bearish mood.
The Canadian natural-gas community sees potentially sharp priceincreases developing on its horizon, thanks to a happy coincidenceof pipeline expansions and economic conditions on the supply side.As the Alliance Pipeline accepted its final certificate for itsU.S. leg from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, risingprices were being predicted by prominent fixtures ranging fromPeters & Co., an investment boutique specializing in energystocks, to the dean of Canadian geological and engineeringconsulting houses, Sproule Associates.
Noticing continued futures strength and a growing threat of newstorm shut-ins in the Gulf of Mexico, cash prices built onTuesday’s gains with even bigger ones Wednesday. Increases oneither side of 20 cents were common at nearly all points. TheCalifornia market, far removed from Gulf storm influence, sawsmaller gains of about a dime, although a Malin rise of 13 centsnearly fulfilled one source’s prediction of up 20 cents there (seeDaily GPI, Sept. 16) based on Tuesday’s intra-Alberta pricestrength.