Next-day power prices in the U.S. chopped around againThursday, owing to conflicting cues from mostly softer Friday load forecastsand mostly higher spot natural gas prices.
After tickinglower overnight, the front-month May natural gas futures contractreversed losses and closed the session up by an impressive 10.7 cents to settleat $2.018/MMBtu. Putting pressure on the front-month contract was storage datafrom the U.S. Energy Information Administration that showed a intoinventories in the Lower 48 during the week ended April 1 that was aboveconsensus estimatesand better than historical averages. Likewise, spot natural gas markets favoredgains, with only deals at Transco Zone 6 New York going the other way.
In other supply, total U.S. took a smallstep back early April 7 to 87.72%, down from 87.82% on April 6 but still abovethe 86.73% level noted on the same day in 2015.
Eastdailies supported by gas ahead of weekend
Next-day power packages in the East were pricedslightly higher Thursday, with the uptick mostly driven by strong spot naturalgas prices but kept in check by forecasts calling for mostly lower Fridaydemand.
Next-day deals at NEPOOL-Mass ranged in the low tomid-$30s, up from a prior-day index of $28.25, while trades at PJM West movedhigher with demand and added around $3 in the low $30s.
Day-ahead markets moved in different directions, withDAM deals at NEPOOL-Mass adding about $5 from Wednesday to average $33.96 whileDAM trades at New York Zone A increased by more than a dollar and averaged$36.41. DAM transactions at New York Zone G and New York Zone J slipped byabout $2 to post averages of $27.81 and $28.42, respectively,
Spot gas markets leaned mostly higher, with gas dealsat Algonquin Citygates soaring by more than $1.20 to average around $3.70/MMBtu,while trades at TETCO-M3 were 10 cents higher from Wednesday and averaged about$1.70/MMBtu. Transactions at Transco Zone 6 New York ran the other way andslipped roughly 10 cents on the session to average below $1.75/MMBtu.
Demand in the Northeast is softer on the final day ofthe workweek, with peak load in New England potentially running up to 14,320 MWon Friday, down 690 MW from Thursday, while demand in New York could see a highat 18,162 MW on Friday, shedding more than 500 MW from the day before.
Load in the Mid-Atlantic is mixed, with the PJMMid-Atlantic region forecasting a Friday high at 30,691 MW, falling close to1,100 MW from Thursday, while the PJM Western region predicts peak Fridaydemand to hit roughly 50,000 MW, up more than 200 MW from the day prior.
Midwestmarkets boosted by rising gas prices
Power markets in the Midwest favored the upsideThursday, as an uptick in spot natural gas prices was able to offset pressuresfrom mixed load outlooks. MISO Indiana saw most of the session's action, withpower trades done in the low $30s, up by roughly $2 from midweek.
PJM regions in the Midwest anticipate varied demand,with load in the PJM AEP region possibly touching 16,451 MW on Friday, uproughly 400 MW from Thursday, while demand in the PJM ComEd region should reach11,435 MW on Friday, down about 400 MW from the previous day.
Spot gas markets gained ground, with trades at ChicagoCitygates and NNG Demarc both adding about 5 cents from Wednesday to postaverages above $1.95/MMBtu and greater than $1.90/MMBtu, respectively.
ERCOTdailies falter with slumping demand
Next-day power parcels in Texas retreated Thursday, asforecasts suggesting weaker Friday load undermined support from an uptick inspot natural gas prices.
ERCOT projects load to crest at 36,962 MW on Friday,plunging more than 3,900 MW from Thursday. Bogged down by sluggish demand,next-day deals at ERCOT North were done in the high teens, falling from aprior-day index of $28.50.
Day-ahead markets in Texas saw $7 to $8 losses and postedaverages of $19.39 at ERCOT Houston, $19.34 at ERCOT North, $19.25 at ERCOTSouth and $18.76 at ERCOT West.
Spot gas markets ticked higher and gave saggingdailies some support. Gas trades at El Paso Permian added close to 2 cents fromWednesday and averaged above $1.70/MMBtu, while transactions at the Henry Hubposted a gain of more than 5 cents and averaged above $1.90/MMBtu.
Westdailies notch losses in revised trade
Trading activity in the West was oriented to themodest downside Thursday, as pressures from outlooks implying lower demand dueto next-day schedule revisions counterbalanced increases in regional spotnatural gas prices.
Next-day trades in the West were done for the combineddelivery days of April 8-9, with the inclusion of the typically lower loadweekend day in the product offering downward pressure on values.
CAISO estimates Friday load to top out at 27,360 MW,down more than 1,200 MW from Thursday's forecasted high. Depressed by demand,power deals at North Path-15 and South Path-15 noted $1 to $2 losses fromWednesday and were done in the low $20s for the former and the high teens andlow $20s for the latter.
In the Northwest, power parcels leaned flat to lower.Mid-Columbia trades were posted in the low teens for a daily loss of around $2,while transactions at COB were heard in the mid- to high teens, easing fromWednesday's index of $17.50. Power packages in the Southwest saw little change,with Palo Verde seeing trades exchanged in the high teens and low $20s, down byless than a dollar from the day prior.
Spot gas markets tacked on gains, with gastransactions at Malin and PG&E Citygates adding about 2 cents from themidweek to average above $1.75/MMBtu and above $1.90/MMBtu, respectively, whiledeals at SoCal Border were about 4 cents higher from Wednesday and averagedaround $1.80/MMBtu.
Market prices and included industry data are currentas of the time of publication and are subject to change. For more detailedmarket data, including power,natural gas andcoal index prices, as well asforwards andfutures, visit our Commodities Pages.