Physical gas prices overall averaged four cents higher Monday with most points reporting nominal temperature-driven gains. Eastern points averaged gains of about a nickel, and Midwest locations gained close to a nickel as well, as chilly and stormy conditions were expected to prevail nearterm.
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Physical gas prices on average plunged Tuesday as temperature forecasts called for moderation. Particularly hard hit were Northeast points, but quotes elsewhere fell as well. One point in the Marcellus did manage a gain.
Milder weather trends continue in the South, while temperature changes are mixed in various parts of the Midwest. Nevertheless, the continuation of winter-like conditions in much of the North American market assured that this week’s overall price advance extended into its third day Wednesday.
September natural gas retreated Tuesday as traders factored in a mild change in the temperature outlook. At the close September had fallen 3.3 cents to $4.155 and October had eased 3.4 cents to $4.156. September crude oil fell $1.10 to $93.79/bbl.
Even with high-temperature records being set from New York City through the Washington, DC, area Friday, forecasts of continuing hot weather no longer seemed to matter in the gas market. Instead, steep plunges at some Northeast citygates led an overall price downturn that seemed to be responding more to recent futures weakness, high storage inventories and the usual weekend loss of industrial load.
April natural gas futures staged a sharp rally Friday as traders noted deeply oversold conditions that were ripe for a short-covering rally. In the words of one trader it was “bound” to happen. At the end of the day April had risen 13.3 cents to $4.005 and May had gained 13.3 cents as well to $4.073. April crude oil tacked on 60 cents to $97.88/bbl.
All but a few locations retreated Tuesday from the previous day’s overall strong gains despite falling temperature forecasts for much of the Midwest and South. They appeared to be outweighed by significant warming trends in the Northeast, Midcontinent, Rockies and desert Southwest. There was an additional bearish factor in Monday’s 18.9-cent plunge by January futures.
Prices continued to fall at most points Friday as temperature forecasts remained relatively moderate for most areas in late August, a lengthy streak of futures weakness continued and there was still no threat to offshore production from Atlantic tropical activity.
Marginal increases in temperature forecasts in several regions kept prices rising at nearly all points Tuesday. Otherwise, fundamentals such as slight prior-day futures weakness and the lack of any Atlantic tropical activity argued against any continued market firmness.
Weather forecasts, while cooling a bit further in the Midwest and beating a temperature retreat in the Northeast, certainly were still too moderate in most cases to explain small price increases at most locations Wednesday. It could only be concluded that the previous day’s relatively paltry 3.1-cent gain by May futures and storage buyers grabbing at what looked like bargain gas — for now — was behind the mild rally.