The overall physical natural gas market Tuesday on average gained 12 cents, but if super-sized gains scored at Northeast points are removed from the tally, the overall gain was a more modest 7 cents. Gains, nonetheless, were widespread and only a couple of locations didn’t make it to the positive side of the trading ledger. At the close of futures trading, March had fallen 4.9 cents to $3.230 and April was off 5.0 cents to $3.296. March crude oil added 48 cents to $97.51/bbl.

At Northeast locations prices jumped higher as the region continued to reel from the recent storm. Traders cited a temporary lack of LNG supplies and temperatures were forecast to dip Wednesday. “Repsol has ’emptied their truck’ and they are running on fumes,” said a Northeast marketer.

“Things are tight until they get some gas. That’s the only place the market is strong.” The trader noted a large world-class tanker shipment was expected. “I think it is supposed to be here sometime within the week.”

Wednesday temperatures were forecast to take a small dip. predicted the high Tuesday in Boston of 44 degrees was anticipated to slide to 39 Wednesday before easing up to 41 on Thursday. The normal high in Boston is 38. In Hartford, CT, Tuesday’s high of 43 was forecast to drop to 38 Wednesday before making it up to 44 on Thursday. The seasonal high in Hartford is 38 also. In New York City, Tuesday’s high of 43 was seen falling to 41 Wednesday before rising to 44 on Thursday. The normal high in New York at this time of year is 41.

Strong daily power prices also helped fuel dollar-plus gains at some New England locations. IntercontinentalExchange reported that peak day-ahead power at the New England Power Pool’s Massachusetts Hub jumped $45.25 to $255.25/MWh. At PJM West, however, next-day power fell 63 cents to $35.05/MWh.

Quotes at Algonquin Citygate for delivery Wednesday jumped $3.23 to $27.73 and parcels into Iroquois Waddington gained 20 cents to $5.38. However, being the volatile Northeast, deliveries on Tennessee Zone 6 200 L went against the grain by losing a stout $1.26 to $23.15.

Farther south, prices firmed as a storm was forecast to work its way in from the west. “A storm bringing snow to the southern Plains and a rain/snow mix to the Ohio Valley will reach the mid-Atlantic and southern New England coast during the middle of the week,” said meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.

“While the event is not likely to translate into a major storm, it will bring a couple of inches of wet snow and slippery travel to part of the I-95 and I-81 corridors. Marginal temperatures will continue to be an issue with rain versus snow for this storm as it pushes toward the upper coast of the mid-Atlantic later Wednesday and Wednesday night. The track of the system will also be crucial as to how much moisture is thrown into the region.”

On Dominion, gas for delivery Wednesday gained 12 cents to $3.35, and deliveries on Tetco M-3 rose 2 cents to $3.58. Gas headed for New York City on Transco Zone 6 added 89 cents to $6.39.

Other market centers also firmed. At Chicago Citygate next-day deliveries rose 7 cents to $3.41, and at the Henry Hub gas was quoted at $3.30, up 10 cents. Gas headed west on El Paso Permian rose by 6 cents to $3.27 and SoCal Citygate came in 4 cents higher at $3.63.

Futures traders don’t see a lot of upside. “I think we test lower before we go higher,” said a New York floor trader. “I think we will test $3 again. There is not a lot of winter left and we are supposed to be warm this week. On the upside you sell it at $3.35 and buy it at $3. There’s not a lot of activity. Some of the spreads in the front have been pretty tight.”

Longer term, analysts see weather influences easing, but for the near term conditions look helpful to the bulls’ cause. “The six-10 day outlooks appear particularly supportive, with below-normal temperatures expected across roughly the western two-thirds of the U.S.,” said Jim Ritterbusch of Ritterbusch and Associates in a morning note to clients. “Weather-related buying is being restricted by the fact that cold deviations from normal are not expected to be pronounced and by the fact that the cool trends are expected to miss the heavily populated eastern one-third of the nation.

“Furthermore, the more extended eight-14 day view is showing a return to neutral patterns across most of the Midcontinent. Finally, with high probability, short-term weather opinions now strengthening out toward the end of February, the temperature factor will continue to diminish in importance with other items attracting more attention.”

A recent Reuters poll found that analysts expect a stout 32% increase in the benchmark Henry Hub price compared to 2012. They are looking for a gain from a 2012 average spot price of $2.77 to $3.66. There were 29 traders and analysts surveyed, and prices for 2013 were expected to range from $3.25 to $4.50. Stricter emissions standards forcing coal-fired power plants to shut were given as a reason for much of the price increase, the poll found.

Tom Saal, vice president at INTL FC Stone in Miami, in his work with Market Profile expected the March contract to test Monday’s value area at $3.238 to $3.286 before moving on to test a “failed auction” at $3.358 to $3.361. Saal is not specific in his timing, but typically value areas are tested the next day.

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