Schlumberger reveals 9,000 job cuts

Schlumberger Ltd., the world's biggest oilfield-services company, tackled the "uncertain environment" of slumping crude prices head-on by cutting 9,000 jobs and lowering costs at one of its biggest businesses. The 7.1 percent workforce cutback, along with the reduction and reassessment of its WesternGeco fleet, were among steps leading to a $1.77 billion fourth-quarter charge in anticipation of lower spending by customers in 2015, the Houston- and Paris-based company said in an earnings report. Energy companies are expected to cut spending in the U.S. by as much as 35 percent this year, according to Cowen & Co.

Initial jobless claims jump but remain low

The end of the holiday shopping season led to more Americans seeking unemployment benefits last week, raising the number of applications to an 18-week high. Still, the number remains near historically low levels. The Labor Department said applications for benefits jumped 19,000 to a seasonally adjusted 316,000. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, rose 6,750 to 298,000. That average has plunged 11.4 percent over the past 12 months and has remained near historically low 300,000 levels since September.

Southwest fined $1.6M for Chicago delays

Southwest Airlines was slammed with a record fine by the Transportation Department after the airline forced passengers to remain on arriving planes at Chicago Midway International Airport for hours during severe weather last winter. Delays involving 16 airplanes last January resulted in a fine of $1.6 million. It's the largest civil penalty the Department of Transportation has assessed an airline for violating its tarmac delay rules, which require airlines to offer passengers on domestic flights the opportunity to get off the plane within three hours of arrival.

Gasoline pushes wholesale prices down

U.S. wholesale prices fell in December by the largest amount in more than three years, reflecting the biggest monthly decline in the cost of gasoline in six years. The Labor Department said its producer price index declined 0.3 percent last month, the biggest decline since a similar drop in October 2011. In November, wholesale prices dipped 0.2 percent. Over the past year, prices at the wholesale level have risen 1.1 percent, slightly below the 1.2 percent increase seen in 2013. Gas prices plunged 14.5 percent in December.

Monsanto gets OK for new GMO seeds

Agriculture business giant Monsanto Co. said it received approval from the Department of Agriculture for new cotton and soybean seeds designed to be used with a new herbicide formula. The company's seeds are designed to increase yield, deter pests and tolerate weed-killing chemicals, particularly the company's Roundup. But many weeds have grown resistant to traditional Roundup, so the St. Louis company has developed a new version.

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