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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The largest U.S.-based multinational oil giants swung back into positive territory in their first-quarter earnings reports this morning as higher oil prices this year help the sector emerge from the pandemic.

Why it matters: The Q1 financials from Exxon and Chevron come after BP, Shell and Total also reported profits earlier in the week, signaling Big Oil's improving fortunes after COVID-19 crushed demand and prices last year.

  • More broadly, multiple oil companies posted big losses last year, slashed spending and took big write-downs on asset values.

Driving the news: Exxon reported a $2.73 billion profit.CEO Darren Woods cited higher commodity prices and "our focus on structural cost reductions, while prioritizing investments in assets with a low cost of supply."

  • The result comes as activist shareholders are pushing for major changes in the company's board.
  • Chevron, meanwhile, posted a roughly $1.4 billion Q1 profit after losing $665 million in the prior quarter.

The big picture: The two giants "generated the most free cash flow in more than a year as economies around the world claw their way out of lockdowns, boosting energy demand," Bloomberg notes.

But, but, but: Chevron's net income was below the first three months of 2020.

  • CEO Mike Wirth said higher oil prices boosted earnings.
  • But he added that results were lower than a year ago due partly to COVID's impact on refined fuel volumes and sales, and the effect of February's Texas winter storm.

Go deeper: Taking stock of Big Oil's pandemic recovery

Go deeper

Exxon suspended from carbon tax group in wake of leaked video scandal

The Climate Leadership Council and its advocacy arm, Americans for Carbon Dividends, has suspended Exxon's membership in the group.

Why it matters: The move comes in the the wake of a leaked video in which senior Exxon lobbyist Keith McCoy says the oil giant has only come out in favor of a carbon tax for public relations reasons.

Updated 3 hours ago - World

Reports: Up to 17 U.S. missionaries kidnapped in Haiti

Haitian soldiers guard the public prosecutor's office in Port-au-Prince earlier this month. Photo: Richard Pierrin/AFP via Getty Images

Children were among up to 17 American Christian missionaries and their relatives kidnapped by a gang in Haiti on Saturday, the New York Times first reported.

Details: The missionaries had just left an orphanage and were traveling by bus to the airport to "drop off some members" and were due to travel to another destination when the gang struck in Port-au-Prince, Haitian security officials said, per the NYT.

5 hours ago - World

Melbourne, "world's most locked-down city," to lift stay-at-home orders

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews during a news conference in Melbourne, Australia, on Sunday. Photo: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Melbourne's stay-at-home orders will end five days earlier than planned, officials in Australia's second-biggest city announced Sunday.

Why it matters: The capital of the state of Victoria has had six lockdowns totaling 262 days since March last year. That means Melbourne spent longer under lockdown than "any other city in the world" during the pandemic, Reuters notes.

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