U.S. oil giants return to profitability

The biggest of American Big Oil – Exxon Mobil and Chevron - is back in the black. Exxon Mobil reported its first profit in five quarters Friday.

Higher oil prices, cost cutting, and strong chemicals margins helped the Texan supermajor swing to net income of $2.7 billion from a loss last year. The sharp rise in crude prices as demand for fuel recovered has buoyed Exxon and its rivals.

The standout for Exxon was its chemicals unit. Profit jumped 10-fold on high prices and demand for plastics.

But the winter storm that slammed Texas resulted in a $390 million loss at its refining business.

That storm also cost rival Chevron $300 million in lost production and repairs. Although the second largest U.S. oil producer also swung to a profit, its net income fell 29% from a year ago. Weaker margins and the absence of an asset sale that benefited results last year also bit into its bottom line.

In early trading on Wall Street, investors took profit on shares of Chevron and Exxon Mobil, both of which have vastly outperformed the broader market this year.