Shell's first quarter up 25% to 971m pounds

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The Independent Online
ROYAL Dutch Shell, the oil and chemicals giant, yesterday reported an almost 25 per cent jump in net profits to pounds 971m for the first quarter of this year.

The result was better than market forecasts and prompted City analysts to upgrade their profits forecasts for the full year. David Stedman of Daiwa Research said: 'Shell's figures were extremely good and demonstrate the quality of its operations.' The firm has lifted its after-tax estimate by pounds 250m to pounds 3.7bn for the year.

Shell shares surged ahead 20.5p to 612.5p.

The profits growth stemmed from an improved performance in three core activities. The exploration and production division boosted profits by 26 per cent to pounds 584m due to higher oil and gas prices.

Refining and marketing profits soared 46 per cent to pounds 429m as rising demand in the Far East and a return to profits in the US more than offset weak trading conditions in Europe.

Although the chemicals division slipped from a pounds 20m profit to pounds 22m loss, this marks a sharp improvement since the last quarter of last year, when the division incurred a pounds 183m loss.

The metals and mining division - which is the subject of disposal talks with Gencor, the South African conglomerate - cut its defict from pounds 18m to pounds 3m.