- Natural gas futures plunged on Thursday after official data revealed U.S. inventories fell less than expected last week despite below-normal temperatures gripping much of the country.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, natural gas futures for delivery in March traded at USD5.112 per million British thermal units during U.S. trading, down 6.46%. The commodity hit session high of USD5.476 and a low of USD5.058.

The March contract settled up 10.61% on Wednesday to end at USD5.465 per million British thermal units.

Natural gas futures were likely to find support at USD4.652 per million British thermal units, Monday''s low, and resistance at USD5.481, Wednesday''s high.

Recent blasts of cold air sweeping across the U.S. hiked demand for heating, though the country tapped natural gas resources a little less than markets were expecting, data revealed, which sparked a selloff.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report that natural gas storage in the U.S. in the week ended January 24 fell by 230 billion cubic feet, missing expectations for a decline of 236 billion cubic feet.

Gas supplies fell by 191 billion cubic feet during the same week a year earlier, while the five-year average change for the week is a decline of 162 billion cubic feet.

Total U.S. natural gas storage stood at 2.193 trillion cubic feet. Stocks were 637 billion cubic feet less than last year at this time and 437 billion cubic feet below the five-year average of 2.630 trillion cubic feet for this time of year.

The report showed that in the East Region, stocks were 269 billion cubic feet below the five-year average, following net withdrawals of 124 billion cubic feet.

Stocks in the Producing Region were 121 billion cubic feet below the five-year average of 924 billion cubic feet after a net withdrawal of 84 billion cubic feet.

Forecasts for moderating temperatures pushed prices lower as well, as investors jumped to the sidelines to await forecasts for mid February.

Elsewhere on the NYMEX, light sweet crude oil futures for delivery in March were up 0.91% and trading at USD98.25 a barrel, while heating oil for March delivery were up 0.03% and trading at USD3.0213 per gallon.

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