Natural gas prices shot up on Thursday after the government reported storage levels expanded less than expected.
The price of natural gas rose 15.3 cents to $4.108 per 1,000 cubic feet on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Earlier, the Energy Department said that the country's natural gas inventories grew by 73 billion cubic feet to about 1.83 trillion cubic feet for the week ended April 16. Analysts expected a bigger boost of between 76 billion and 80 billion cubic feet.
PFGBest analyst Phil Flynn said the news caught the market by surprise.
With recent mild weather and rising rig counts, "there was an expectation that we'd see more production, less demand and a bigger than expected increase in inventory," he said.
Flynn suggested that stronger manufacturing figures could have helped boost demand for natural gas and production may not have been as high as the rig count indicated.
"Traders got too bearish too soon," he said.
Meanwhile, oil prices slid for a second day, following stock markets lower. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down about 75 points at midday.
Benchmark crude for June delivery fell 71 cents to $82.97 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The price of crude is 80 percent higher than a year ago. The increase seems to be tracking the dollar and the direction of stocks on Wall Street, not U.S. energy demand.
Meanwhile, the debt crisis in Greece continues to dampen expectations for an economic recovery and stronger energy demand, Flynn added. Greece's mounting problems are also weighing on the euro, bolstering the dollar and hurting oil prices. A stronger dollar makes crude more expensive for holders of other currencies.
In other Nymex trading in May contracts, heating oil fell 0.89 cent to $2.2147 a gallon and gasoline lost 0.54 cent at $2.2773 a gallon.
In London, Brent crude was down 46 cents to $85.24 on the ICE Futures exchange.
© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.