Technicals, like a roadmap to a traveler, give natural gasfutures traders important clues as to where the market is takingthem. Although fundamental factors must never be ignored, they arehaving a vastly diminished impact during this low demand “shoulder”period. The April contract rocketed higher Tuesday after gappingabove a key technical level on the charts. April finished thesession at $5.621, up 29.9 cents on the session.
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Spot price records could be tested again this week in SouthernCalifornia, where the market yesterday nearly mimicked what tookplace in early December when prices reached a new record at$58.76/MMBtu. SoCal started the day around $20 and then soaredabove $40 before coming back down to the low $30s. Strong heatingand power generation demand and stringent balancing requirements onSouthern California Gas’ system due to low storage levels, promptedthe market move.
No one can really predict the weather, “but at the rate winteris setting in, by the middle of February we’ll be where we usuallyare in April” in regard to natural gas in storage, according toThomas A. Petrie, chairman of Petrie Parkman & Co. in Denver.
PowerTrust.com announced the appointment of Susannah Robinson asthe company’s COO. Robinson comes from Titan Energy, where sheserved as acting president and member of the board since 1997.While with Titan, she helped to build its natural gas and electriccustomer base from zero to 200,000. Prior to working for Titan,Robinson worked in regulatory and governmental affairs for Enron.
Taking a cue from the July contract, which tumbled in anexpiration-day sell-off, August began its tenure as prompt month byslipping lower yesterday morning as traders continued to look pasta bullish storage situation to focus on bearish short-term demandoutlooks. But just like other moves lower in recent weeks,yesterday’s retracement was short-lived and by 11:15 a.m. (EDT)buyers had promoted the near-month back into positive territory onthe day.
The best laid plans of energy titans can often go astray,particularly where mergers are concerned. ExxonMobil tossed awrench into the BP Amoco-ARCO merger works by suing for apreliminary injunction against the merger partners and PhillipsPetroleum. Phillips has agreed to buy ARCO’s Alaskan holdings forabout $7 billion in a deal intended to win Federal Trade Commissionapproval of the merger (see NGI March 20).