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Monday March 13, 1:19 pm Eastern Time

NYMEX Hub gas moves up midday on revised forecasts

NEW YORK, March 13 (Reuters) - NYMEX Hub natgas moved higher midday Monday in moderate trade, boosted by reports of a firmer physical market amid revised weather forecasts for some cool temperatures this week, industry sources said.

At 1:10 p.m., April was up 8.6 cents at $2.86 per million British thermal units after trading today between $2.81 and $2.865. May was 7.6 cents higher at $2.88. Other months were up 2.1 to 6.5 cents.

``It's the weather. I think overall, temperatures are a little cooler this week than expected. We're supposed to get another Arctic air mass across the eastern half of the nation later this week, but by midweek next week, temps are supposed to rebound,'' said one Texas-based trader, referring to a private forecast released this morning.

In addition to concerns about low storage, traders also saw still-high oil prices and a busy spring nuclear plant maintenance program as supportive factors for gas.

U.S. gas stocks are now 27 percent below year-ago, a factor that should support prices during the spring/summer injection cycle.

Early estimates for Wednesday's weekly AGA storage report range from a draw of 65 bcf to a build of five bcf. For the same week last year, stocks fell 134 bcf.

According to Friday's Reuter survey of nuclear plant operators, total nuclear generating capacity off line for refueling and/or extended maintenance was still up 40 percent from the same year-ago period.

And three more units with almost 2,900 MWs of capacity were shut over the weekend for scheduled refueling outages.

WSC expects East Coast temperatures Monday-Tuesday to average normal to slightly below, then climb to several degrees above normal Wednesday-Thursday before moderating to about normal by Friday. Midwest readings will climb to as much as 10 degrees above seasonal at midweek, then dip to two to eight degrees below seasonal by Friday.

The mercury in Texas will range from normal to below normal Monday-Tuesday to two to six above later in the week, while the West will see mostly above seasonal temperatures.

Technical traders pegged April resistance at the recent contract high of $2.88, with further selling likely in the low-$2.90s. Psychological resistance was expected at $3.00.

Minor support in April was seen at $2.67, with trendline support in the low-$2.60s, which also corresponds to the 40 day moving average of $2.61. The fifty-percent retracement point is at $2.53. Better support should emerge at $2.495, which was the Feb 23 low, with further support at $2.44, which was the low last month.

In the cash Monday, Henry Hub swing quotes ranged from $2.76 early to $2.845 later versus Friday's average of $2.76. Midwest pipes firmed a couple of cents to the $2.70-2.73 area. In the West, El Paso Permian was little changed at $2.66-2.67.

Swing gas on Transco at the New York city gate was up a few cents to $3.03-3.08 on cooler weather in the region, while Chicago was flat to up slightly at $2.85-2.87.

NYMEX said 32,896 Hub contracts traded at 12:35 p.m. Hub open interest on March 10 fell 11 lots to 288,103.

For the latest U.S. spot natural gas prices type NG-US and hit F3.

-- - (, March 13, 2000


``'It's the weather' ... In addition to concerns about low storage, traders also saw still-high oil prices and a busy spring nuclear plant maintenance program as supportive factors for gas."

Remember, this has nothing to do with Y2K problems. Absolutely nothing, and by the way, I have a bridge that you might want to buy.

-- (, March 13, 2000.

Now that Y2k is fixed, you can go now. See ya around.

-- - (x@XXX.COM), March 13, 2000.

NOAA - Scientists say this winter warmest on record

-- - (, March 13, 2000.

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