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Investors in big oil bracing for bad news as headwinds gather

A slide in energy prices, slow global demand and slighter chemical margins loom over the oil industry as the sector's supermajors get ready to publish their interim reports in the coming weeks.

Photo: NERIJUS ADOMAITIS/REUTERS / X03961

Slumping energy prices, sluggish global demand and shrinking chemical margins are weighing on the oil industry as its biggest names prepare to announce quarterly results to investors demanding ever-higher payouts.

The so-called supermajors -- Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Chevron Corp., Total SA and BP Plc -- are expected to disclose a 42 percent plunge in third-quarter earnings, on average, when they post results this week. That drop-off is too steep to blame on the 18 percent decline in crude oil prices, which means executives will have some explaining to do.

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