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 natural gas in storage shrank by 76 billion cubic feet to 3.472 trillion cubic feet for the week ended Dec. 30.

Analysts expected a drop of 77 billion to 81 billion cubic feet, according to a survey by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.

The inventory level was 15.2 percent above the five-year average of 3.014 trillion cubic feet, and 11.4 percent above last year's level of 3.116 trillion cubic feet, according to the government data.

Natural gas fell 5 cents to $3.05 per 1,000 cubic feet in New York.