Petrochemicals dent profit at France's Total in Q1

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By SARAH DiLORENZO, Associated Press

PARIS (AP) — French oil company Total saw its revenues grow strongly in the first quarter of the year but said Friday that a drop in European demand for petrochemicals hit profits.

While energy prices have soared amid unrest in the Middle East and tension in Iran, the economic slowdown in Europe has weighed on demand. Those high prices have buoyed Total's production business, but other sectors are struggling amid the poor economic environment.

France's largest company by market value reported Friday that its revenues rose 11 percent to €51.2 billion, beating the average expectation of analysts surveyed by FactSet of €48 billion.

But its net profit fell 7 percent to €3.7 billion ($4.9 billion) for January to March. That dragged its stock price down in morning trading on the Paris bourse, where it dropped 1.4 percent.

In addition to weak demand for petrochemicals, the company said the sale of a Spanish oil company decreased refining output. That business was also hurt by a decrease in refining margins.

In the business group that includes refining and chemicals, adjusted net operating income dropped 77 percent over the same quarter last year.

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