UPDATE 3-US natural gas futures end down despite supportive EIA data

Thu Feb 21, 2013 3:51pm EST
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* Storage draw beats expectations but still below average

* Coal switching, nuclear plant outages lend some support

* Extended outlook for cold weather also limits downside

* High inventories, record production keep buyers cautious

* Coming up: Baker Hughes rig data, CFTC trade data Friday

By Joe Silha

NEW YORK, Feb 21 (Reuters) - U.S. natural gas futures ended lower on Thursday despite early buying after a slightly supportive weekly inventory report, as traders focused on concerns that the last month of winter may not turn out cold enough to significantly whittle down supplies.

U.S. Energy Information Administration data on Thursday showed total domestic gas inventories fell last week by 127 billion cubic feet to 2.400 trillion cubic feet.

While the weekly stock draw exceeded market expectations for the first time in four weeks and was viewed by some traders as slightly supportive, others noted it came in well below the 155 bcf decline seen during the same week last year and below the five-year average drop for that week of 140 bcf.   Continued...