Fueled by a larger-than-expected storage withdrawal and promptedby gains in Wednesday night’s Access session, natural gas futuresclimbed higher yesterday as traders lifted prices in a briskafternoon buying surge. The March contract finished up 5.2 cents at$2.592, but the real story was the outer months, which gained 6cents or more on moderate position rolling.

Despite yesterday’s nickel-plus advances, Susannah Hardesty ofIndiana-based Energy Research and Trading is skeptical of furtheradvances and believes the market will tumble next week. “We arejust about at the top of the upside correction. $2.63 is 50%retracement from last week’s $2.78 high and Tuesday’s $2.475 low,”she said. If the $2.63 level is able to put a cap on prices andforecasters are right about moderating temperatures, she predictsprices will move to down to winter lows, possibly as low as $2.22next week. The National Weather Service said Wednesday thattemperatures are expected to cool back to normal across thenorthern third of the country, while temperatures in the South areexpected to remain above normal.

Hardesty was quick to point to the large area of warmtemperatures as a reason for her bearish sway. “Most of the privateforecasters are in agreement that above- and much-above normaltemperatures will gradually move North to include the Midwest andGreat Lakes by later next week. Storage, no matter how you sliceit, will be enough to get us through the winter,” she said. “Thereis just very little out there to convince me that prices deserve tobe 80 cents above last year’s levels.”

©Copyright 2000 Intelligence Press Inc. All rights reserved. Thepreceding news report may not be republished or redistributed, inwhole or in part, in any form, without prior written consent ofIntelligence Press, Inc.