Jobless claims drop sharply
The first-time filings for state unemployment benefits declined by 38,000for the week ending August 1 to a seasonally adjusted 550,000, while the number of people who continued to collect regular benefits rose by 69,000 to a seasonally adjusted 6.31 million the prior week according to a Labor Department report released Thursday morning.

AIG settles $15 million charges with SEC
American International Group's former Chief Executive Hank Greenberg agreed to pay $15 million to settle civil allegations of accounting fraud, a Securities and Exchange Commission official said on Thursday.

Blackstone posts a wider loss, but beat expectations
Private equity firm Blackstone Group LP posted a higher loss, but results beat analyst expectations as the private-equity giant reported positive returns and better fund-raising at its credit-oriented and funds-of-hedge-funds businesses. For the three months ended June 30, the company lost $164.3 million, or 60 cents per share. That compared with a loss of $156.5 million, or 60 cents per share, a year earlier.