The nation's natural gas supplies fell last week, the government said Thursday.
The Energy Department's Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report that the amount of natural gas in storage shrank by 81 billion cubic feet to 3.548 trillion cubic feet for the week ended Dec. 23.
Analysts expected a decline of 85 billion to 89 billion cubic feet, according to a survey by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.
The inventory level was 13.7 percent above the five-year average of 3.120 trillion cubic feet, and 9.1 percent above last year's level of 3.251 trillion cubic feet, according to the government data.
Natural gas futures fell 4 cents to $3.08 per 1,000 cubic feet in New York.
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