MTECHTIPS- U.S. natural gas futures declined in pre-New Year holiday trade on Thursday morning, but prices held near a two-year high after data showed that natural gas supplies in storage in the U.S. fell much more than the five-year average for this time of year. Natural gas for February delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange dropped 7.0 cents, or 1.8%, to $3.828 per million British thermal units by 10:49 AM ET (15:49 G MT). Futures were at around $3.820 prior to the release of the supply data. Prices rallied to $3.902 in the prior session, a level not seen since December 2014, amid colder forecasts for January. Trade is expected to remain thin for the rest of the week as most investors are away for year-end holidays. The U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report that natural gas storage in the U.S. declined by a whopping 237 billion cubic feet in the week ended December 23, exceeding market expectations for a drop of 222 billion cubic feet. It was the biggest withdrawal for the week since at least 1994. That compared with a withdrawal of 209 billion cubic feet in the preceding week, 58 billion a year earlier and a five-year average drop of 80 billion cubic feet. Total natural gas in storage currently stands at 3.360 trillion cubic feet, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, almost 11.0% lower than levels at this time a year ago and 2.3% below the five-year average for this time of year.