U.S. stocks edged lower in choppy trading on Thursday as earnings, including Alibaba's, and a further drop in U.S. crude futures dragged shares lower, while a strong reading in the job market gave equities some support. "Alibaba is growing more slowly than thought, and it's a stock a lot of people want to own," said Kim Forrest, senior equity research analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh.
By Lucia Mutikani WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits tumbled last week to its lowest level in nearly 15 years, adding to bullish signals on the labor market. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 43,000 to a seasonally adjusted 265,000 for the week ended Jan. 24, the lowest since April 2000, the Labor Department said. The four-week moving average of claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, fell 8,250 last week to 298,500. The latest decline in applications for unemployment benefits bolsters views of tightening labor market conditions and comes a day after the Federal Reserve ramped up its assessment of the labor market and the overall economy.
HOUSTON/WILLISTON, N.D. (Reuters) - ConocoPhillips and Occidental Petroleum Corp on Thursday slashed exploration spending plans for this year, as the third- and fourth-largest U.S. oil companies attempt to cope with a steep slide in crude prices. The cuts follow similar steps by rival Hess Corp earlier this week while Royal Dutch Shell , Europe's largest oil company, said on Thursday it would reduce its spending the next three years by $15 billion. In response to the price collapse, oil and gas companies have made drastic cuts to budgets, idled drilling rigs and in some cases, cut jobs. Conoco, which said in December it would cut 2015 spending by 20 percent to $13.5 billion, now expects spending to be scaled back by a further 15 percent to $11.5 billion.
Time Warner Cable Inc , the second-largest U.S. cable TV operator, reported a 3.8 percent rise in revenue as residential customers bought more service bundles, leading to fewer-than-expected video cancellations. Time Warner Cable lost a net 38,000 residential video customers in the quarter, less than half the 103,000 that market research firm StreetAccount had estimated and fewer than the 184,000 customers it lost previous quarter. Time Warner Cable, however, reported quarterly revenue and profit below the average analyst estimate. The company's shares were down marginally at $138.63 in morning trade on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday.