The natural gas futures market shrugged off a bearish government inventory report and flew higher Thursday amid robust demand for U.S. exports, extending a rally to four straight sessions. The April Nymex gas futures contract climbed 16.9 cents day/day and settled at $5.401/MMBtu. May rose 17.2 cents to $5.446.

eia storage chart

NGI’s Spot Gas National Avg. slipped 4.0 cents to $4.700.

Domestic fundamentals provided little ammunition to ignite a rally, with production below 95 Bcf and forecasts on Thursday pointing to modest weather-driven demand.

“Overall, we continue to view the coming pattern as bearish the front two days, slightly bullish Sunday through Tuesday, then neutral/seasonal” between next Wednesday and April 5, NatGasWeather said.

What’s more, U.S. utilities withdrew 51...