It was still freezing and snowy in much of the Midwest andNortheast Thursday, but cash traders continued to bank on anapproaching warming trend that has been ballyhooed since thebeginning of the week. Prices fell by about a nickel to a littleover a dime in across-the-board softness. The Martin Luther KingDay weekend (in which some apparently are getting a half-day offthis afternoon in addition to the actual holiday Monday) added tothe general bearish mood.

It was obvious that even the second-largest weekly storagewithdrawal in modern market history had essentially no impact whenprices are sinking the very next day, a Midcontinent trader said.

The level of overall market activity remains very sluggish formid-winter, several sources agreed. A couple of traders reporteddoing baseload deals into El Paso-San Juan and Tennessee at 3-6cents under their Thursday levels.

Midcontinent numbers fell back to the vicinity of indexes, saida marketer reporting several pipes there in the mid $1.70s. “Tulsais supposed to be 68 degrees by Saturday in the middle of January,so it doesn’t look like there’s much hope for physical gas tradingat higher prices.”

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