Refining props up earnings as upstream results weaken

First-quarter 2007 earnings for a sample of companies were mixed, as service and supply firms fared much better than oil and gas producers and refiners based in the US and Canada.Refining margins boosted the results of refiners and integrated firms in the sample, while many US producers reported net losses for the first 3 months of this year.Production volumes for some companies moved higher from a year earlier, but oil and gas realizations were lower.Prices, marginsThe front-month futures closing price for crude oil on the New York Mercantile Exchange averaged $58.25/bbl during the first quarter of 2007, down 8% from the first quarter of last year.Average natural gas prices also declined...

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