Natural gas in storage rose 2 billion cubic feet in the December 1 week to 3,695 bcf. The first increase in four weeks, while marginal, is nevertheless unusual coming as it does during the fourth week of the heating season, when drawdowns are the norm. The small build contrasts with a 42 bcf drawdown in the same week last year and a 81 bcf average decline in the comparable 49th week over the last 5 years. Natural gas stocks nevertheless remain 6.7 percent below their level last year at this time, when they were exceptionally high due to inventory buildup caused by lower heating consumption in the preceding winter. In a longer term comparison, stocks are 1.0 percent below the 5-year average and are well within the 5-year historical range.