Facebook glitch rapidly ages some users

Facebook's making some of its users feel a lot older than they really are. The social network sent automated messages Thursday inviting some users to celebrate "46 years of friendship on Facebook" with one or more of their online friends. That's odd, since Facebook only started in 2004. And some people who got the message are in their 20s and 30s. Facebook blamed a software bug. It didn't offer details, but computer experts speculate the problem stems from a quirk in Unix, an operating system used in big data centers where companies like Facebook store information. The glitch starts the internal calendar on some computers at midnight, Greenwich Mean Time, Jan. 1, 1970. Facebook said its engineers are fixing the problem "so everyone can ring in 2016 feeling young again."

Applications for jobless benefits rise

More Americans requested unemployment benefits last week, but the level remains near historic lows in a positive sign for the job market. Applications for jobless aid jumped 20,000 to a seasonally adjusted 287,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. The less volatile four-week average climbed 4,500 to 277,000. Over the past 12 months, the number of people receiving benefits has fallen 7.1 percent to 2.2 million. Businesses still view the U.S. economy as growing, despite the manufacturing sector struggling amid a broader global slowdown. Employers have hired about 210,000 workers a month this year. And unemployment last month held at a seven-year low 5 percent.

Montana mine cuts jobs, production

A Montana coal mine cut 66 jobs and is slashing production amid an industrywide slowdown that's starting to affect the largest coal-producing region of the United States. Signal Peak Energy announced Wednesday that 58 employees had been laid off and eight vacant positions eliminated at its Bull Mountain Mine. That's about 20 percent of the workforce at the underground mine in central Montana. The company also will cut production, from almost 8 million tons in 2014 to 5.5 million tons annually "until the market changes," said Signal Peak President Brad Hanson, who blamed poor market conditions. Montana and Wyoming combined produce almost half the coal in the U.S., primarily from the Powder River Basin along the states' shared border.

U.S. oil, natural gas rigs drop by two

Oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc. says the number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. declined by two this week to 698. The Houston firm said Thursday 536 rigs sought oil and 162 explored for natural gas amid depressed energy prices. A year ago, 1,811 rigs were active. Among major oil- and gas-producing states, California and North Dakota each declined by two and Ohio, Oklahoma and West Virginia dropped one apiece. Louisiana and Texas gained two rigs. Pennsylvania was up one. Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming were unchanged. The U.S. rig count peaked at 4,530 in 1981 and bottomed at 488 in 1999.

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