Archive for April, 2011

Chevron profit rises 36 percent on high oil prices

Friday, April 29th, 2011 | Finance News

SAN RAMON, Calif. – Chevron Corp. said Friday its first-quarter net income rose 36 percent, the latest in a string of strong earnings from the major oil companies.

Chevron sold its oil for an average price of $89 per barrel in the last quarter, compared with $71 a year ago. That led to a $1.25 billion increase in profit from exploring for and producing oil. Refining profits also improved.

Net income rose to $6.21 billion, or $3.09 per share, from $4.55 billion, or $2.27 per share a year ago. The results topped Wall Street expectations and marked Chevron's best three months since it earned $7.9 billion in the third quarter of 2008.

Gasoline prices have topped $4 per gallon in some states. As oil company profits approach levels of three years ago, when gas prices last spiked in the United States, the industry is fighting a renewed push from President Barack Obama and Democrats to end its $4 billion a year in taxpayer subsidies.

On Thursday, Exxon Mobil reported net income of almost $11 billion, its best quarter since it made $14.83 billion in the July-September period of 2008. That's the record for a publicly traded company. Also, Shell's profit rose 60 percent to about $9 billion in the first quarter. France's Total SA made about $5.8 billion, up 50 percent. ConocoPhillips' earnings rose 43 percent.

Chevron's revenue rose 25 percent to $60.34 billion in the quarter.

In early trading, Chevron shares lost 63 cents to $108.18.

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Chevron profit rises with oil price surge

Friday, April 29th, 2011 | Finance News

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Chevron Corp (CVX.N), the second-largest U.S. oil company, reported a 36 percent jump in quarterly earnings as oil prices surged and refining profits improved along with the global economy.

Oil companies have seen their earnings boosted by the jump in global oil prices above $100 per barrel in the first quarter because of growing global energy demand and unrest in the Middle East and North Africa.

Chevron's first-quarter profit rose to $6.2 billion, or $3.09 per share, from $4.6 billion, or $2.27 per share, a year earlier.

That topped analysts' average estimate of $3.00 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue rose 23 percent to $58 billion.

Oil and gas output slipped nearly 1 percent to 2.76 million barrels of oil equivalent per day.

Still, earnings from the upstream, or production arm, jumped to $5.98 billion in the quarter on strong energy prices.

Chevron also benefited from strong demand for products such as gasoline, diesel fuel and jet fuel, which helped lift profits at its refineries more than threefold from a year ago to $622 million.

The San Ramon, California-based Chevron had said earlier this month that rising demand had boosted its first-quarter refining margins, despite the rise in oil prices.

Chevron's report comes a day after Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) and Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSa.L) beat analysts' forecasts with their quarterly numbers.

Earlier on Friday, France's Total (TOTF.PA) said profit rose 35 percent, a day after it announced it would take a majority stake in U.S. solar power company SunPower Corp. (SPWRA.O).

Chevron shares were fractionally lower in premarket trading. The stock has gained 19 percent since the start of 2011, in line with Exxon shares.

(Reporting by Matt Daily, additional reporting by Braden Reddall in San Francisco, editing by Gerald E. McCormick, John Wallace and Matthew Lewis)

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Consumer spending rises on higher prices

Friday, April 29th, 2011 | Finance News

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. consumer spending rose as households stretched to cover the higher cost for food and gasoline as inflation posted its biggest year-on-year rise in 10 months.

The Commerce Department said on Friday consumer spending, adjusted for inflation, edged up 0.2 percent last month after rising 0.5 percent in February.

Nominal spending increased 0.6 percent for a ninth straight month of gains, after advancing 0.9 percent in February.

Economists had expected spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of U.S. economic activity, to rise 0.5 percent.

"The story in the first quarter was higher gas prices are forcing people to spend more at the expense of other items," said Christopher Low, chief economist at FTN Financial in New York. "The inflation burden increased in the quarter, things were progressively worse as you moved from January to March."

U.S. stock index futures maintained earlier gains after the report, while bond prices held their slight gains. The dollar was weaker versus the euro and yen.

The government reported on Thursday that consumer spending grew at a 2.7 percent annualized rate in the first quarter after a 4 percent increase in the final three months of 2010.

That contributed to economic growth slowing to a 1.8 percent rate in the first quarter after a 3.1 percent expansion in the last quarter of 2010.

The moderation in spending was not as sharp as economists had feared, suggesting that consumers were somewhat adapting to the high commodity prices, but could face a litmus test should gasoline prices shoot above $4 a gallon.

The national price for regular unleaded gasoline rose 3.5 cents to $3.88 in the week through Monday.

The Fed this week expressed confidence high energy prices would not spark broader inflation, with Chairman Ben Bernanke saying he did not believe gasoline prices would continue to rise at their recent pace.

High food and energy prices kept inflation elevated in March, with the personal consumption expenditures price (PCE) index up 0.4 percent after rising by the same margin in February. Compared to March last year, the index was up 1.8 percent - the largest increase since May - after rising 1.6 percent in February.

The core PCE index -- excluding food and energy - slowed to a 0.1 percent increase after rising 0.2 percent in February. The core index, which is closely watched by Federal Reserve officials, increased 0.9 percent in the 12 months through March.

The index rose 0.9 percent in February and the Fed would like to see it around 2 percent.

Spending was supported by incomes, which increased 0.5 percent last month after a 0.4 percent gain in February. The rise in incomes was a touch above economists' expectations for a 0.4 percent gain.

Savings edged up to $651.2 billion from $647.5 billion in February. The saving rate was unchanged at 5.5 percent.

Separately, wages rose at a 0.4 percent rate in the first quarter, a Labor Department report showed, after increasing by the same pace in the fourth quarter.

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani, Additional reporting by Karen Brettell in New York; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

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