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November natural gas futures hold firm overnight

Afterending the week's opening session up another 8.2 cents at $3.275/MMBtu, Novembernatural gas futures initially took to the defensive overnight ahead of the Tuesday,Oct. 11, open but regained footing to last trade at new 21-month highs. Last dealswere pegged 1.5 cents higher at $3.290/MMBtu.

Recentgains in front-month gas futures activity that have reached 36.9 cents since Sept.30 are seen to have been driven by technical trading, without much in the way offundamental support, as lackluster weather-driven demand prospects combine withsteadily building and still-robust inventories.

In itslatest forecasts, the National Weather Service continues to call for above-averagetemperatures across the bulk of the country through the upcoming six- to 10-dayand eight- to 14-day periods, which is expected to equate to lower high temperaturesgiven the time of year that would keep residential cooling demand limited as earlyheating load remains at bay. Subdued demandshould allow for natural gas to flow more heavily into underground storage facilities,allowing for a further improvement in the rate of weekly injections.

Inventorieshave recently notched their second-largest build of the season, as the U.S. EnergyInformation Administration detailed an 80-Bcfinjection in its most recent storage data covering the week to Sept.30. The reported build took total working gas stocks to 3,680 Bcf, or 74 Bcf abovethe year-ago level and 205 Bcf above the five-year average of 3,475 Bcf.

The largestbuild in the current refill season was the 82-Bcf addition to stocks reported bythe EIA for the week ended May 27, but this could soon be outmatched by the nextweekly storage data due out on Oct. 13 that is expected to show a build near 90Bcf for the report week to Oct. 7. Should the forthcoming storage figure be at parwith the estimate, it would compare favorably against the 97-Bcf year-ago buildand a 92-Bcf five-year average injection.

Meanwhile,the National Hurricane Center continues to monitor Tropical Storm Nicole, last locatedabout 380 miles south of Bermuda and packing maximum sustained winds of 60 mph asit moves northward at 6 mph, as of an 11 p.m. ET update on Monday. The NHC expectsNicole to strengthen in the next 48 hours and reach hurricane status on Tuesday,but to steer clear of the U.S. East Coast over a five-day period.

In cashactivity, the price of natural gas booked Monday for Tuesday flow favored the upsidein much of the country, as returning demand coming off the weekend combined withongoing gains at the futures arena.

At themajor delivery locations, the charge higher was led by Transco Zone 6 NY next-daygas price action that soared by about 35 cents to an index at $1.355/MMBtu. BenchmarkHenry Hub spot gas pricing followed with a near 16-cent uptick in deals averagingat $3.177/MMBtu, then Chicago hub activity that added roughly 14 cents on the sessionto average at $2.994/MMBtu and PG&E Gate day-ahead gas prices that climbed byalmost 12 cents on average to an index at $3.480/MMBtu.

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Regionally,Northeast cash gas pricing surged by more than 33 cents in transactions averagingat $1.812/MMBtu, as Gulf Coast and Midwest next-day gas prices rose by about 18cents on average to indexes at $2.993/MMBtu and $2.964/MMBtu, respectively. WestCoast spot gas price activity was lifted by nearly 16 cents to an index at $2.847/MMBtu.

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Marketprices and included industry data are current as of the time of publication andare subject to change. For more detailed market data, including power andnatural gas indexprices, as well as forwards and futures, visitour Commodities Pages.