Feb 2 (Reuters) - ConocoPhillips, the largest U.S. independent oil producer, reported a smaller-than-expected quarterly loss on Thursday, helped by higher crude prices and lower costs.
The results reflected a slow but steady improvement across the industry as crude prices stabilize after a two-year rout.
Conoco said its cash flow from operations exceeded its capital spending and dividend payout for a second consecutive quarter, a positive sign of economic growth.
"Our recent performance highlights the significant changes we've made as a company to respond to a world of lower and more volatile commodity prices," Chief Executive Ryan Lance said in a statement.
The company's reserves of 18 billion barrels of oil equivalent are profitable at about $40 per barrel, roughly $17 above current trading prices.
Conoco said its fourth-quarter net loss narrowed to $35 million, or 3 cents per share, in the quarter, from $3.45 billion, or $2.78 per share.
The year-ago quarter included a $2.74 billion charge, while the latest quarter included a gain of $52 million.
On an adjusted basis, ConocoPhillips reported a loss of 26 cents per share, much smaller than the 42 cents analysts had estimated, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The company's total realized price was $32.93 per barrel of oil equivalent (BOE), 15.4 percent above the year-ago level, it said on Thursday.
The Houston-based company's operating costs were down 21.5 percent in the fourth quarter.
Excluding Libya, production was marginally down at 1.59 million barrels of oil equivalent per day.
ConocoPhillips said its production in the first quarter of 2017 would be between 1.54 million-1.58 million barrels of oil equivalent per day.
Shares of Conoco fell 0.9 percent to $48.08 in morning trading.
(Reporting by Vishaka George in Bengaluru and Ernest Scheyder in Houston; Editing by Bernadette Baum)
Copyright 2017 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.
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