Natural gas declined on Thursday after reports from the U.S. government showed that the economy was slowing and inventories had declined.

Natural gas for May delivery declined by 4.3 percent or 41.9 cents to $9.413 per million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Gas has increased by 26 percent this year and U.S. stockpiles declined by 29 cubic feet last week.

The Labor Department said jobless claims had increased by 38,000 in the week that ended March 29 to 407,000 suggesting that the economy was tumbling and energy demand was declining.

According to the U.S. Energy Department, Industrial, commercial and power-generation demand accounts for about 78 percent of gas use, and the available stockpiles amount to 1.248 trillion cubic feet.

Gas prices were forecasted to fall to about $9 per million Btu due to a slowing U.S. economy.