Natural gas futures were trading slightly lower early Thursday as the market awaited updated government inventory data that was expected to show a lighter-than-average weekly withdrawal from Lower 48 storage. The January Nymex contract was down 3.7 cents to $3.778/MMBtu at around 8:50 a.m. ET.

NGI Morning Natural Gas Price & Markets Coverage

For the latest Energy Information Administration (EIA) storage report, scheduled for 10:30 a.m. ET, a Reuters survey showed withdrawal estimates ranging from 36 Bcf to 64 Bcf, with a median pull of 53 Bcf. A Bloomberg survey of seven analysts produced a tighter range of withdrawal projections, with a median draw of 60 Bcf. NGI also modeled a 60 Bcf decrease in inventories for the upcoming report, which covers net changes during the week ended Dec. 3.

In the year-earlier period, EIA...