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The nation's natural gas supplies shrank last week, the government said Thursday.

The Energy Department's Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report that natural gas in storage decreased by 78 billion cubic feet to 2.888 trillion cubic feet for the week ended Feb. 3.

Analysts expected a drop of 84 billion to 88 billion cubic feet, according to a survey by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.

The inventory level was 32.8 percent above the five-year average of 2.174 trillion cubic feet, according to the government data.

Last week's draw was far below the 206 billion cubic foot withdrawal in the same week last year. Mild winter weather has kept gas demand weak.

Natural gas rose 3 cents to $2.48 per 1,000 cubic feet in New York.

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