Cash market natural gas prices were mostly flat Tuesday with strength at a few Northeast locations offsetting softer California and Texas markets. California consumers were the beneficiaries of the return to service of a major pipeline from the Rockies, and weather forecasts for Wednesday called for 60s in the Northeast and Midwest, and 80s in the South and West. At the close of futures trading the June contract had risen 6.9 cents to $2.500 and July had added 6.3 cents to $2.568. June crude oil slipped 80 cents to $93.98/bbl.
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Physical prices were off by a couple of cents Friday with weakness at some Northeast and California points being offset by strength in the Midcontinent and elsewhere. Futures settled higher as traders squared books ahead of the weekend, and at the close April had risen by 4.7 cents to $2.326 and May had had gained 1.6 cents to $2.436. April crude oil jumped $1.95 to $107.06/bbl.
On balance the cash market averaged out to the loss side of the trading ledger Monday, but double-digit strength was noted at northeastern points, and deliveries into southern California points also registered gains. Futures markets headed south as revised weather forecasts called for an extended period of warmth throughout the eastern two-thirds of the country. At the end of futures trading April had fallen 12.9 cents to $2.355 and May had slid 12.8 cents to $2.472. April crude oil added two cents to $106.72/bbl.
Halliburton Co., the No. 1 hydraulic fracturing (fracking) services provider in North America, said Monday fourth quarter net profits spiked 50% year/year on the strength of U.S. operations. However, as the industry shifts from dry natural gas plays to liquids, CEO Dave Lesar said costs are rising.
There were still a few softening locations in the market Monday, but it was strength all the way Tuesday. Slightly milder temperatures will be returning in parts of the South Wednesday, but they will be offset by cooling trends in the previously unseasonably moderate Northeast.
Canaccord Genuity on Wednesday cut its 2012 natural gas price forecast by 50 cents to $4.00/Mcf on the strength of gas-directed and oil well-related gains in the U.S. onshore.
SM Energy Co. has agreed to sell its Marcellus Shale assets in Pennsylvania, including its entire 42,000-acre leasehold and associated pipeline assets in McKean and Potter counties, to a subsidiary of Houston-based Endeavour International Corp. for approximately $80 million, the companies said Monday.
Prior-day futures strength, in which the July contract rose a stout 14.8 cents, was able to offset some forecast declines of cooling load in a couple of key market areas in keeping most points flat to slightly higher Wednesday.