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

The Energy Department's Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report that natural gas in storage grew by 57 billion cubic feet to 2.437 trillion cubic feet for the week ended March 23.

Analysts expected a rise of 43 billion to 47 billion cubic feet, according to a survey by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.

The inventory level was 58.6 percent above the five-year average of 1.537 trillion cubic feet, and 50.3 percent above last year's level of 1.621 trillion cubic feet, according to the government data.

Natural gas futures fell 10 cents to $$2.18 per 1,000 cubic feet in New York.