UPDATE 3-U.S. natgas futures lose 3 pct despite big storage draw

Thu Jan 24, 2013 3:35pm EST
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* Weekly inventory decline above estimates for 4th week

* Prices drop despite supportive storage data, near-term cold

* Record high production also weighs on sentiment

* Coming up: Baker Hughes gas drilling rig data Friday

By Eileen Houlihan and Joe Silha

NEW YORK, Jan 24 (Reuters) - U.S. natural gas futures slid more than 3 percent on Thursday, ending lower for a third straight day, on profit taking despite cold weather in consuming regions in the eastern United States and a larger-than-expected weekly drawdown from inventories.

"A bullish weekly inventory report was not enough to push the natural gas market back into positive territory, nor was the latest government short-term weather forecast which was more supportive than the prior day's forecast," noted Energy Management Institute's Dominick Chirichella.

"The market may be slowly moving into a mode of too little too late so to speak as February is the only month of the remaining winter heating season that is currently projected to experience winter-like weather over major portions of the country," he added.

Thursday's gas storage report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration showed inventories fell last week by 172 billion cubic feet, above industry expectations for a 167-bcf draw.   Continued...