Natural gas futures inched higher early Thursday as traders prepared to digest the latest government inventory data, expected to show another strong January withdrawal. 

The March Nymex contract was up 1.2 cents to $2.112/MMBtu at around 8:41 a.m. ET. April was up 0.6 cents to $2.127.

In the follow-up to last week’s record-challenging 326 Bcf withdrawal, the latest U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) weekly natural gas storage report is set to reveal a less massive but still sizable triple-digit pull, estimates show.

Ahead of the report, scheduled for 10:30 a.m. ET, surveys show traders and analysts anticipating a withdrawal approaching 200 Bcf in magnitude for the week ended Jan. 26.

Estimates submitted to Bloomberg ranged from withdrawals of 183 Bcf to 209...