Wednesday’s minimal gains proved to be an accurate harbinger of a three-day market rally coming to an end. A flat Westcoast Station 2 was the sole exception to falling quotes at all other locations Thursday as the previous day’s 12.7-cent drop by prompt-month futures joined generally pleasant early-fall weather in applying downward pressure to physical gas numbers.

A moderate majority of points recorded double-digit drops amid losses ranging from about a nickel to a little more than 60 cents.

The largest decline at Line 300 in Tennessee’s Zone 4 was a bit of a market aberration since all other losses were capped at about 20 cents. The point’s low fell to $1.30 and the average was only $1.46 as Marcellus Shale suppliers continue to make low-ball offers just to get their gas moved to Northeast markets.

The Energy Information Administration easily exceeded consensus expectations in the mid 100s Bcf when it announced a 112 Bcf addition to storage during the week ending Oct. 7. Not only did the volume surpass analysts’ estimates, it also was significantly larger than comparable year-ago and five-year average numbers. So it was a bit surprising to see Nymex traders take the report in stride and wind up sending November futures 4.2 cents higher (see related story).

Despite the screen support for Friday’s cash market, prices are expected to keep falling as the weekend decline of industrial load is added to a general dearth of weather-based demand.

Early Friday the National Hurricane Center (NHC) had only a broad area of low pressure extending from southeastern Mexico into the northwestern Caribbean Sea on its monitoring map, and gave it a near-zero chance of becoming a tropical cyclone within the succeeding 48 hours. However, by late morning NHC had started paying attention also to a surface low a couple of hundred miles northeast of the Bahamas, to which it accorded 30% odds of tropical cyclone development as it moved to the north-northeast.

Highs of about 100 in the Phoenix area of the desert Southwest and lows around freezing or lower in parts of Western Canada constituted the extreme conditions in forecasts for Friday. Otherwise, California was retreating from a brief hot spell and most other areas were basking in seasonal moderate temperatures.

Indicators of lessening Northeast/Appalachian load over the weekend came from impending actions by Tennessee, Texas Eastern, Algonquin and East Tennessee Natural Gas to prevent positive imbalances and a continuing restriction on interruptible storage injections by Columbia Gas (see Transportation Notes).

Another sign of light demand in the Southeast came from Southern, which said it expected storage nominations to exceed its maximum injection capability by 200 MMcf Saturday. Although it did not announce a Type 6 OFO Thursday, the pipeline said one was “highly likely” for long imbalances Saturday and Sunday.

An outage of Gordondale Compressor Station that has caused Westcoast’s linepack to trend toward excess levels will end Saturday (see Transportation Notes).

Increases and declines in nominated volumes for Thursday were about evenly mixed at the 23 trading locations covered by Bentek Energy’s U.S. Natural Gas Hub Flows chart. Eight points fell and nine rose, while the remaining eight were essentially flat, Bentek said. Big dips were recorded at Columbia Gas — where interruptible storage injections were unavailable — down 348,000 MMBtu (12%); the Florida citygate, down 175,000 MMBtu (5%); and Northern Natural-demarc, down 132,000 MMBtu (23%). Two points saw major gains: Texas Eastern M-3, up 269,000 MMBtu (15%), and Waha, up 174,000 MMBtu (62%).

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