MTECHTIPS- U.S. natural gas futures extended gains in North American trade on Thursday, after data showed that natural gas supplies in storage in the U.S. fell more than expected last week. Natural gas for delivery in April on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose 6.2 cents, or 2.14%, to trade at $2.963 per million British thermal units by 10:33 AM ET (15:33 GMT). Futures were at around $2.952 prior to the release of the supply data. The U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report that natural gas storage in the U.S. fell by 68 billion cubic feet in the week ended March 3, while analysts had forecast a fall of 61 billion. That compared with a build of 7 billion cubic feet in the preceding week, a decline of 57 billion a year earlier and a five-year average decline of 136 billion cubic feet. Total U.S. natural gas storage stood at 2.295 trillion cubic feet, 7.7% lower than levels at this time a year ago and 18.8% above the five-year average for this time of year. Meanwhile, traders continued to monitor shifting weather forecasts to gauge demand for the fuel. Weather forecasts for the next 8-to-15 days showed that rain, snow, and cool temperatures will track across the northern and eastern U.S., boosting demand expectations for the heating fuel. At the same time, the southern half of the U.S. will be warmer than normal as high pressure dominates with highs reaching the 60 s to 80 s Fahrenheit. Prices of the heating fuel are down around 22% so far this year as forecasts for warm winter weather weighed on heating demand expectations.