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KUALA LUMPUR, May 15 (Reuters) - Malaysia's Petronas Chemicals Group Berhad on Monday reported a doubling in quarterly profit, helped by higher prices and sales volume, but remained cautious about recovery in the petrochemicals market as crude prices remain volatile.
The chemicals manufacturer, a subsidiary of state-run energy firm Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas), reported a first-quarter profit of 1.38 billion ringgit ($318.49 million), compared with 671 million ringgit a year earlier.
Revenue rose 49 percent to 4.7 billion ringgit from the year-ago quarter. Sales volume increased 16 percent, while product prices rose by an average of 22 percent.
"Petrochemical product prices have risen in tandem and demand has also shown some improvement," CEO Sazali Hamzah said in a statement.
"Despite the improvements that we have seen so far, crude oil and as such petrochemical prices, is forecast to remain volatile."
Petronas Chemicals makes olefins, polymers, fertilisers and methanol among others. Petronas owns about 65 percent of the chemicals unit.
The company said it anticipates the olefins and derivatives market to soften in the near term due to post re-stocking activities amid stable supply and feedstock prices. Methanol prices are also expected to soften in the near term, it said.
The fertiliser market is likely to firm on the back of seasonal demand from Southeast Asia and India coupled with tight supply from the Middle East, Petronas Chemicals said.
Plant utilisation rate for the year will be slightly lower than 2016 due to higher statutory turnarounds planned, it said.
Shares of the company recouped some losses following the results. They were trading down 0.4 percent at 7.20 ringgit per share, after falling as much as 2 percent earlier in the day.
$1 = 4.3330 ringgit Reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi; Editing by Stephen Coates and Miral Fahmy