Front-month US natgas futures hit 2012 high after EIA data

NEW YORK, Oct 11 (Reuters) - Front-month U.S. natural gas futures shot to a new high for the year early on Thursday after a government report showed a weekly inventory build well below market expectations.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said domestic gas inventories rose last week by 72 billion cubic feet to 3.725 trillion cubic feet. Traders and analysts polled by Reuters had expected an 80-bcf gain.

At about 10:31 a.m. EDT (1431 GMT), front-month gas futures

on the New York Mercantile Exchange were up 11.7 cents, or 3.4 percent, at $3.592 per million British thermal units, the highest for the nearby contract since last December.

Prior to the release of the weekly storage data at 10:30 a.m., the front month was trading in the $3.515 area.

(Reporting by Joe Silha; Editing by Dale Hudson)

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