Few areas were getting below 32 degrees (F) Thursday, but cashprices seemed to be frozen in place everywhere. The market was muchlike the landscape around Houston, one source said: flat in alldirections.

Despite the overall lack of price change, a producer said GulfCoast prices were moving up as trading proceeded. She regretted anearly Columbia Gulf-onshore sale at $2.15 after hearing $2.17-18reports later. Similarly NGPL-South Texas was at $2.10 early, butby waiting the producer was able to pull the trigger on a $2.12deal. Another trader reported Midcontinent pipes also tended to seesmall upticks late.

Intrastate ONG was leading the Midcontinent pack again, said asource reporting ONG at $2.11-14. The pipe is running essentiallyfull, he said, so some people are willing to pay a little more tomake sure their gas gets moved. A Midcontinent marketer said”[we’re] scratching our heads” over how all the bearish market newslately has been unable to break down cash prices. With cash stillholding steady after such a low storage report, “it’s causing somepeople I know to grow horns” (get more bullish), he said. Nymexprices for summer and next winter remain very strong, he added, sothe cheapest gas on the market is trading now. A Texas trader saidhis best rationale for continuing firmness is that there are “stillenough lingering shorts in this market to keep it propped up.”

It will be interesting to see if Midcontinent prices can avoid aslide today since Chicago temperatures for the weekend are expectedto be in the 50s, one source said. But an aggregator was prettycertain of at least more flatness or even increases after watchingan electronic trading service post late-afternoon Chicago deals at$2.295, more than a nickel over Thursday’s average. And it looks tobe going higher, she said, because a $2.31 bid had just appeared onthe service’s screen.

A marketer viewed the storage report as a non-event for cashmarkets. “I think with that number coming out so low, and then AGAsaying one of the West people didn’t report, it created lessvalidity [and] caused a lot of people to ignore it,” he said.

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