Natural gas stockpile levels fell less than expected last week, the government said Thursday.
The Energy Department's Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report that natural gas inventories held in underground storage in the lower 48 states dropped by 166 billion cubic feet to about 3.4 trillion cubic feet for the week ended Dec. 18.
Analysts had expected a draw of between 171 billion and 175 billion cubic feet, according to a survey by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.
The inventory level was 13.1 percent above the five-year average of about 3.01 trillion cubic feet, and 11.8 percent above last year's storage level of about 3.04 trillion cubic feet, according to the government data.
Natural gas fell 6.3 cents to $5.758 per 1,000 cubic feet on the New York Mercantile Exchange.