The nation's natural gas supplies rose more than analysts expected last week, according to government data released Thursday.
The Energy Department's Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report that natural gas held in underground storage in the lower 48 states grew by 44 billion cubic feet to 2.758 trillion cubic feet for the week ended July 29.
Analysts expected an increase of 34 billion to 38 billion cubic feet, according to a survey by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.
The inventory level was 2.4 percent below the five-year average of 2.826 trillion cubic feet, and 6.3 percent below last year's level of 2.944 trillion cubic feet, according to the government data.
Natural gas lost 12 cents at $3.972 per 1,000 cubic feet in morning trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.