Natural gas futures jump more than 3% after inventories data

Natural gas futures jumped more than 3% on Thursday, after data showed that U.S. natural gas supplies grew by a smaller than average amount for this time of year.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, natural gas futures for delivery in May traded at $4.678 per million British thermal units during U.S. morning hours, up 3.26%. Futures traded at $4.513 prior to the release of the supply data.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report that natural gas storage in the U.S. in the week ended April 11 rose by 24 billion cubic feet after an increase of 4 billion cubic feet in the previous week.

Analysts had expected a build of 34 billion cubic feet last week.

Severely cold weather over this past winter saw natural gas stockpiles fall to 11-year lows, sparking concerns that producers may not be able to refill inventories before the next heating season.

Producers typically replenish inventories between April and October, when demand is lower.

The heating season from November through March is the peak demand period for U.S. gas consumption. Approximately 52% of U.S. households use natural gas for heating, according to the Energy Department.

Spring and fall see the weakest demand for natural gas in the U.S, as the absence of extreme temperatures curbs demand for heating and air conditioning.

Elsewhere on the Nymex, crude oil futures for delivery in May were up 0.77% to $104.58 a barrel, while heating oil for May delivery was almost unchanged at $3.011 per gallon.