U.S. natural gas futures surged on Thursday after federal data showed a storage withdrawal in line with market expectations. Front-month gas futures NGc1 for February delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose 16.1 cents, or 5.9 percent, to $2.893 per million British thermal units at 10:39 a.m. EST (1539 GMT). U.S. utilities pulled 112 billion cubic feet of gas from storage during the week ended on Dec. 22, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported on Thursday. That was in line with the 113 bcf draw analysts estimated in a Reuters poll and compares with a year-earlier decline of 233 bcf and a five-year average decrease of 111 bcf for that period. [EIA/GAS]