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Noble Corp's loss smaller than expected on lower costs

(Adds fourth-quarter details)

Feb 21 (Reuters) - Noble Corp Plc on Wednesday reported a smaller-than-expected quarterly loss, helped by a near 14 percent fall in costs in its contract drilling services business.

Net loss attributable to Noble narrowed to $24.68 million in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31 from $1.3 billion a year earlier, when it recorded impairment charges of $1.44 billion.

On a per-share basis, the loss was 10 cents in the latest quarter, compared with $5.36 last year.

Excluding items, the company lost 29 cents per share, while analysts on average had expected a loss of 33 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue fell 19.6 percent to $329.59 million.

(Reporting by Taenaz Shakir in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)