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Forwards recap: April power value biased higher despite declining gas prices

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Forwards recap: April power value biased higher despite declining gas prices

Despite a retreat in natural gas futures prices alongside moderating weather with the arrival of spring, term power markets across the U.S. turned mixed to higher during the week ended March 23.

Looking at natural gas futures, the front-month April contract started the workweek March 19 with losses following pressures from imminent warming beyond the official start of spring March 20, which sent the market 3.7 cents lower to $2.651/MMBtu. Lingering cold weather supported gains March 20, with the April contract adding 2.4 cents to $2.675/MMBtu.

However, longer-range weather outlooks worked to pull front-month gas back to the negative side of the ledger March 21, with the contract closing the session down 3.7 cents to $2.638/MMBtu. The downtick was extended March 22 as reports of a less-than-expected 86-Bcf net withdrawal during the week ended March 16 were waved aside as the market looked beyond storage erosion and cold weather in favor of longer-term outlooks, which ultimately led April gas down 2.1 cents to $2.617/MMBtu.

Due to a dearth of fundamental weather support, the April contract's value continued to falter March 23, with front-month gas closing the review week with a 2.6-cent loss to $2.591/MMBtu. Overall, April gas tumbled 6.0 cents during the review week spanning March 19-23.

At wholesale electricity markets, term packages for April moved mixed to higher throughout the review week, contrary to pressures from subdued fueling costs and moderating weather.

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Representing the week's defiant sentiment was the New England Mass hub, where April power was pegged at $34.42 on March 19 and $38.86 on March 23, adding roughly 13% over the period.

Prices at other locations in the East moved mixed. Prompt-month power prices at PJM West were seen at $34.10 on March 19 and $34.40 on March 23, up by little more than 1% during the week. New York Zone G saw prompt-month packages slip 3% throughout the week and were assessed at $32.24 on March 19 and $31.19 on March 23.

Markets in the central U.S. were pointed higher. PJM Northern Illinois noted prompt-month value at $27.26 on March 19 and $28.70 on March 23, up 5% week on week. April packages at PJM AEP-Dayton were pegged at $33.98 on March 19 and $35.20 on March 23, adding roughly 4% for the period. MISO Indiana April gained about 2% for the week and was seen at $32.95 on March 19 and $33.71 on March 23.

Along ERCOT North's forward curve, April power was assessed at $28.23 on March 19 and $28.75 on March 23, about 2% higher for the week.

Running counter to the trend were markets in the West, which responded to declining fueling costs and subdued demand with losses. In the Southwest, April power at Palo Verde was seen at $25.64 on March 19 and $23.50 on March 23, dropping about 8% for the period. In California, prompt-month values at South Path-15 were pegged at $25.89 on March 19 and $24.75 on March 23, about 4% lower during the period. April power value at Mid-Columbia eased slightly and was pegged at $16.27 on March 19 and $16.18 on March 23.

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Market prices and included industry data are current as of the time of publication and are subject to change. For more detailed market data, including power and natural gas index prices, as well as forwards and futures, visit our Commodities pages.