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Shell’s Slip Shows Oil and Gas Prices Aren’t Everything

A weaker quarter for Shell is a timely reminder that high oil and gas prices don’t always mean bumper supermajor results.

Liquefied-natural-gas prices were stratospheric in the third quarter, while crude benchmarks oscillated between $80 and $100 a barrel. Shell’s third-quarter update Thursday nonetheless warned of “significantly lower” gas-trading results and reduced refining and chemicals margins that together could pack an earnings hit of much as $2 billion. Marketing profits and oil production improved, but the overall picture clearly surprised some investors: The company’s shares were down almost 5% in European trading, though pared back some of that fall later in the day.