The overall cash market added two cents on average Thursday as gains at eastern points and the Gulf Coast were able to offset softness in the Northeast and southern California. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported a build of 51 Bcf, which was higher than market expectations, but prices slipped only for a moment. At the close November futures had gained a stout 11.7 cents to $3.587 and December had added 8.4 cents to $3.904. November crude oil eased 2 cents to $92.10/bbl.
Articles from Softness
Prices fell at all but two points Tuesday in the start of the third holiday-shortened trading period in less than a month. The softness appeared to defy cooling trends forecast for Wednesday in the Midwest and South while the Northeast gave up Friday’s big gains even with lows below freezing remaining in the next-day forecast.
Generally minor softness has lasted only one day this week so far, as a large majority of locations resumed climbs Thursday that once again were mostly in single digits. Patches of snow and rain stretched from the Rockies to the Northeast and snow was even expected to reach the panhandles of Oklahoma and Texas by Friday. Subfreezing lows will become more frequent at least through Friday before many areas begin to warm again.
As a Northeast marketer had predicted the day before, prices continued to move higher Friday (including several spikes) at citygates in his region, but moderate softness reigned in the rest of the market. The Northeast was bracing for a cold blast with temperatures bottoming out around freezing or lower. But although similarly frigid conditions were in the forecasts for the Midwest as far south as the Midcontinent and for the Rockies, those areas failed to find enough heating load to lift prices.
As indicated in Tuesday’s dwindling gains and increased softness, the cash market’s recent bull run was coming to a close. This was borne out in Wednesday trading; several locations, mostly in the Northeast, were flat or higher again, but a majority of points saw generally minor declines.
Mild softness dominated the cash market Tuesday. There was still a little bit of both heating load in Canada and the northern U.S. and cooling load in the southern tier of states, but neither demand source was strong enough to support spot prices. The previous day’s decline of 2.3 cents by May futures, which will expire Wednesday, was another slightly bearish influence for the physical market.
Shaking off last Friday’s softness, natural gas cash points across the country overlooked early spring temperatures to record gains across the board, but behind the scenes most of the talk was centered on what, if any, repercussions might the U.S. gas market see down the road from the unfolding tragedy in Japan.
Modest softness dominated at a solid majority of locations Friday as outside the Upper Plains and much of the Midwest weekend weather was expected to range from merely cold (a little above freezing) to cool. The relative lack of heating load was reflected in overall pricing.