- Natural gas futures extended Thursday's gains into Friday in wake of U.S. government reports revealing inventories fell more than expected last week.

Forecasts for lower temperatures to settle in across much of the U.S. pushed up prices as well.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, natural gas futures for delivery in February traded at USD3.574 per million British thermal units, up 2.28%.

The commodity hit a session low of USD3.474 and a high of USD3.576.

A winter storm that ploughed across much of the heavily populated eastern U.S. earlier and has prompted weather forecasters to predict dry but cooler air to settle in its wake, which was bullish for natural gas.

Natural gas futures are very sensitive to weather reports in the U.S. winter.

The U.S. heating season running from November through March sees peak demand for gas.

About half of U.S. households use gas for heating purposes, according to Energy Department data.

The commodity continued to see support from official data pointing to declining stockpiles.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report that natural gas storage in the U.S. in the week ended Jan. 11 fell by 148 billion cubic feet compared to market expectations for a decline of 136 billion cubic feet, which took many market participants by surprise.

Inventories fell by 89 billion cubic feet in the same week a year earlier, while the five-year average change for the week is a decline of 144 billion cubic feet.

Total U.S. natural gas storage stood at 3.168 trillion cubic feet as of last week. Stocks were 147 billion cubic feet less than last year at this time and 316 billion cubic feet above the five-year average of 2.852 trillion cubic feet for this time of year.

The report showed that in the East Region, stocks were 92 billion cubic feet above the five-year average, following net withdrawals of 86 billion cubic feet. 

Stocks in the Producing Region were 156 billion cubic feet above the five-year average of 957 billion cubic feet, after a net withdrawal of 39billion cubic feet.