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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 April, 2004, 16:03 GMT 17:03 UK
Indian oil major cheers investors
oil barrels
Reliance refines about a quarter of India's fuel
Reliance Industries, India's biggest oil firm, has turned in higher than expected profits for the first three months of the year.

Reliance said net profits rose 29% on the year to 14.2 billion rupees ($320m), outstripping the 13.4 billion rupees pencilled in by forecasters.

Profits for the full year to late March were also up, climbing 26% to 51.6 billion rupees.

Analysts said the increase reflected strong energy prices.

"Reliance continues to be a big beneficiary of the upswing in petrochemical prices," said Jigar Shah, head of research at brokers KR Choksey.

"Given the strong demand for oil products, the core business will still be the growth driver."

World oil prices have come close to 13-year highs in recent weeks because of unexpectedly low stocks in the US, and the threat of output cuts by producers' cartel Opec.

Strong oil prices also boosted first quarter profits for global oil giants BP and Shell.

Reliance Industries, part of the giant Reliance Group conglomerate, processes about 660,000 barrels of oil a day - roughly a quarter of India's total consumption - at its refineries.

India's economy: Can the boom last?
07 Jan 04  |  South Asia

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