After etching what some feel could be the range for theremainder of the April contract’s life with Monday’s $1.69 low andTuesday’s $1.825 high, the market stayed pat Wednesday-tradinginside a tight 3-cent range. And while no fresh fundamental forceswere seen to usher the market in either direction, sourcesindentified a host of limiting technical factors in yesterday’sprice action. The April contract finished up 0.5 cents to $1.795.

The New York Mercantile Exchange was forced to suspend tradingtwice during the Tuesday evening Access trading session due toproblems with data feeds to outside vendors, a Nymex spokespersonsaid. After a 5-minute delay, the after-hours computer-only sessionopened at 4:05 PM EST and traded until 4:55 when trading was onceagain suspended. The second outage lasted until 7:25 PM.

And Ed Kennedy of New York-based Pioneer Futures was quick topoint to the abbreviated Access session as an early determinate inyesterday’s trading. “There was quite a bit of pent up selling[Wednesday] following the late drop right before the closeTuesday,” he said. However, just as the buying had dried up onTuesday’s early move higher, so did the selling in Wednesday’s movelower. “The market just died at that point,” Kennedy continued.

Despite being mildly bullish in the intermediate to longer term,Kennedy is not convinced higher prices will arrive in time tosalvage the April contract, which expires Monday. “I am looking fora range of $1.67-80, with an expiration price around $1.75,” heconcluded.

A Houston marketer agreed with the lower end of Kennedy’s range.”It’s always tough to pick a bottom, but I think you need to ownanything in this market with a six after the decimal point. Hecontinued, adding that hedging for the upcoming storage injectionseason will become an increasingly important factor in thedirection of prices. “With the market in its current state ofcontango (a situation in which prices of out months aresuccessively higher going forward) it makes economic sense to buyprompt month futures and sell the out months to cover your storageinjections. That should put upward pressure on the front month,” hereasoned.

The AGA released its storage report last night, which estimated87 Bcf was withdrawn during the week ending March 19. Although somesources were quick to tag the news as a non-factor in the market,others viewed the data as “slightly bullish” for prices. “Not onlydid [the withdrawal] eclipse most expectations, but it also wasmore than last year’s 78 Bcf pull,” a Chicago-area trader noted.There is now 1,372 Bcf of gas in storage, 346 Bcf more than lastyear.

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