A fracking site is situated on the outskirts of town in the Permian Basin oil field. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

"The world’s largest oil companies this week posted some of their best earnings in years as they control costs and ride rising oil prices that are nearing $70 a barrel," the Houston Chronicle's Jordan Blum writes on the front page.

Why it matters: "The improved earnings are another sign that the energy industry recovery is gaining momentum. U.S. oil production and exports are at record highs, and both Exxon and Chevron are investing billions of dollars to develop their holdings in the Permian Basin in West Texas."

By the numbers: "Chevron [yesterday] said its first quarter profit surged by 36 percent from a year ago to $3.6 billion, its best report since the peak of the last oil boom in the summer of 2014."

  • "To get a sense of the newfound strength of the industry, consider this: analysts and investors were deeply disappointed by the earnings of Exxon Mobil, which said it profits rose 16 percent to nearly $4.7 billion in the first three months of the year. Flat or falling earnings from refining and chemicals profits kept Exxon from generating even more extravagant returns."

Why it happened: "The strong profits are largely a product of higher oil prices, which are nearly $20 a barrel higher than a year ago and more than $40 above the low point of the recent oil bust — $26 a barrel in early 2016."

  • "The majors also are exploring again. Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Shell, the British company BP and the French company Total have all announced significant offshore discoveries in recent months, in the Gulf of Mexico and North Sea, and off the coast of Guyana."

Go deeper

Deadly Hurricane Zeta churns inland after lashing Louisiana

A satellite image of Hurricane Zeta. Photo: National Hurricane Center/NOAA

Hurricane Zeta has killed at least one person after a downed power line electrocuted a 55-year-old in Louisiana as the storm moved into Alabama overnight.

What's happening: After "battering southeastern Louisiana and southern Mississippi," it began lashing Alabama late Wednesday, per the National Hurricane Center.

33 mins ago - World

Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases

Catholics go through containment protocols including body-temperature measurement and hands-sanitisation before entering the Saint Christopher Parish Church, Taipei City, Taiwan, in July. Photo: Ceng Shou Yi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Taiwan on Thursday marked no locally transmitted coronavirus cases for 200 days, as the island of 23 million people's total number of infections reported stands at 550 and the COVID-19 death toll at seven.

Why it matters: Nowhere else in the world has reached such a milestone. While COVID-19 cases surge across the U.S. and Europe, Taiwan's last locally transmitted case was on April 12. Experts credit tightly regulated travel, early border closure, "rigorous contact tracing, technology-enforced quarantine and universal mask wearing," along with the island state's previous experience with the SARS virus, per Bloomberg.

Go deeper: As Taiwan's profile rises, so does risk of conflict with China

Updated 58 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Politics: Biden ahead in Wisconsin, Michigan as cases surge in the Midwest.
  2. Health: Fauci says U.S. may not return to normal until 2022 — Trump's testing czar: Surge "is real" and not just caused by more tests Some coronavirus survivors have "autoantibodies."
  3. Business: Consumer confidence sinking Testing is a windfall.
  4. World: Europe faces "stronger and deadlier" wave France imposes lockdown Germany to close bars and restaurants for a month.
  5. Sports: Boston Marathon delayed MLB to investigate Dodgers player who joined celebration after positive COVID test.

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