This Market Could Keep Cooking With Gas

Natural gas prices are hot. The most closely watched spot-market price, the Henry Hub, was $3.60 per thousand cubic feet in January. Compare that with December's average of $2.31, or January 1995's average of $1.61. "No one expected gas prices to go through the roof like they have," says Michael Smolinski, First Albany's gas analyst. Why? Experts think the industry was unprepared for this season's colder-than-normal temperatures after five years of mild winters--including that of 1995, one of the warmest on record.

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