A highly stressful trading week came to a close Friday with most of the market in a general holding pattern. Flat to barely higher or lower numbers prevailed at a majority of points; declines of about a nickel or more were concentrated in the Rockies and California.

The market remains pretty subdued in the aftermath of the destruction of New York City’s World Trade Center and the related attack against the Pentagon, sources said. For the most part traders continued to make only the minimum amount of deals necessary to keep their supply positions balanced. A Northeast buyer said he was just doing without daily risk mitigation in the absence of Nymex’s futures guidance. And a Gulf Coast marketer said he was using EnronOnline’s bid-ask spread for Henry Hub cash in October as his most viable substitute for Nymex.

Nymex did hold an Internet-only Access trading session Friday afternoon, which was well after cash business had closed for the day. The Access activity had to be halted for a while to fix a glitch, but then resumed.

The weather was getting downright chilly for the weekend in the Northeast and Midwest, one trader said. However, it wasn’t cold enough “to get furnaces turned on to any significant degree.” Rather, he said, residents would be more likely to don sweaters and throw a blanket or two on the bed at night.

Bullish indicators remain elusive. In its latest six-to-10-day forecast, the National Weather Service foresees above normal temperatures in the producing states of Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Colorado, along with Utah and Arizona. Tropical Storm Gabrielle continued to recede as a production threat after making landfall Friday morning on Florida’s west coast. Gabrielle was weakening as it moved over the Florida peninsula and was expected to emerge into the Atlantic somewhere in the Daytona Beach region Saturday.

Looking ahead, a marketer expects that when Nymex becomes fully operational again, gas futures will be trading on the basis of fears about crude oil supplies arising from the expected U.S. retaliation against last week’s terrorist attacks. But the marketer regards any link with gas prices as “totally unsubstantiated. But that lack of stability is enough to keep us a little leery for now.” Regardless, London’s International Petroleum Exchange provided some support for the concerns as its November Brent (North Sea) crude contract rose nearly a dollar Friday to more than $29/bbl.

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