Statoil, Norway's largest oil company, said that first quarter profit slumped by thirty one percent because of lower crude oil prices and a loss from making and selling fuels. Shares in the group fell on the news. Net income declined to 3.01 billion kroner ($363.6 million), or 1.39 krone a share, from 4.33 billion kroner, or 2.19 krone per share, in the same period last year. Analysts expected a profit of 3.15 billion, according to a survey by news service TDN Finans. The stock slid two and a half kroner, or three and a half percent percent, to seventy kroner. Rivals including BP and TotalFinaElf also suffered in the quarter because of a 19 percent drop in average oil prices to $21.40 a barrel. Profit from making fuels such as gasoline fell to a record low in parts of Europe as the slowing economy and a warmer than normal winter hurt demand for oil products. “The numbers from the downstream activities were disappointing,” said Henning Bratlie, a fund manager who helps oversee about 6 billion kroner in stocks and bonds at Skandia Fondsforvaltning's Norwegian funds.
After it turned out that Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov included the Fonbet betting company in the list of backbone enterprises that can count on state support, everyone started talking about these bookmakers.