Chevron 4Q profit falls 37 percent

Chevron Corp. saidFriday its fourth-quarter profit fell 37 percent as higher crude prices led to huge losses in its refining business.

The nation’s second-largest oil company reported earnings of $3.1 billion, or $1.53 per share, for the final three months of 2009. That compares with $4.9 billion, or $2.44 per share for the same period of 2008. Revenue increased 10.3 percent to $47.6 billion.

For the full year, Chevron earned $10.5 billion, or $5.24 per share, compared with $23.9 billion, or $11.67 per share in 2008.

Chevron chairman and CEO John Watson blamed the drop in profits on a weak economy and a wild swing in energy prices from 2008 to 2009.

In the fourth quarter of 2009, oil prices climbed as energy traders anticipated an economic recovery and a rise in oil consumption. [Read the full article]

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Dow Chemical Co., the nation’s largest chemical maker, is scheduled to report fourth-quarter earnings Tuesday before the market opens. Here is a summary of company news and analysts’ thoughts from that period:

OVERVIEW: Dow manufactures products used in a variety of consumer items from shopping bags to toys and automobiles. It has tries to shift the focus of its business away from commodity chemicals, made from fossil fuels, to specialty chemicals, used in things like cosmetics and food additives.

During the fourth quarter the company took steps to raise cash to pay off debt and meet a government mandate to divest some assets it acquired as part of a $16.5 billion buyout of Rohm & Haas Co. earlier this year.

In October Dow, based in Midland, Mich., completed the sale of Morton International to a German company for $1.68 billion. Later in the quarter, the company said it will sell its powder coatings business for an undisclosed amount. [Read the full article]

Oil prices gained Friday after a report showed that the U.S. economy grew last quarter at the fastest pace in over six years.

What prices are doing: Crude oil for March delivery rose 27 cents to trade at $73.91 a barrel early Friday.

On Thursday, oil ended slightly lower at at $73.64 a barrel as a selloff on Wall Street put traders on edge and the dollar strengthened.

What’s driving prices: Early Friday, the government reported the nation’s gross domestic product — the broadest measure of economic activity — rose at a 5.7% annual rate in the fourth quarter.

That’s significantly higher than the 4.7% rate analysts expected, as well as the 2.2% increase posted in the prior quarter. Stocks jumped on the news, boosting crude prices.

Oil traders view the stock market as a leading indicator of economic growth and potential energy demand. As a result, oil prices have recently risen in tandem with the major stock indexes. [Read the full article]

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