As the market awaited the latest government inventory data, expected to reveal an unseasonably light withdrawal following mild winter weather this month, natural gas futures were called close to even early Thursday.

Following a 27.5-cent slide in the previous session, the February Nymex contract was off 1.0 cent to $3.301/MMBtu at around 8:50 a.m. ET. March was trading 1.3 cents higher at $3.124.

The Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) 10:30 a.m. ET storage report, a follow-up to the rare mid-winter injection of 11 Bcf reported a week earlier, is expected to reveal a lighter-than-average withdrawal for the week ended Jan. 13.

Estimates submitted to Reuters ranged from declines of 53 Bcf to 81 Bcf, with a median of 73 Bcf. Bloomberg’s poll found analysts looking for...