natural gas squeeze

The February Henry Hub natural gas contract has exploded in an Amaranth-style move to $7.25 from $4.20 earlier today, gapping more than 70% higher.

The contract settles in a few minutes and the volume is just 4829 contracts so far but it's clear that someone has been caught out by delivery.

Unlike Amaranth, this doesn't look like a futures trade gone wrong. Rather it's a mismatch in the physical market, leaving someone cornered.

However it's not all roses beyond that, the March contract, which is where all the volume is now, is up 9% to $4.41 in a potential sign that the US is going to need a lot more gas in short order. That breaks the January high for that contract.

Weather forecast for early February are showing a fresh round of cold in the eastern US.

This could change the psychology of the whole natural gas market. There's nothing like a sense of scarcity to ignite hoarding.

Update: Settlement was $6.265.