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JOHANNESBURG, March 10 (Reuters) - South African petrochemicals group Sasol Ltd said on Monday its first-half headline earnings rose 26 percent, helped by a weaker rand currency and higher chemical prices.
"This achievement was on the back of a strong operational performance from our global businesses, coupled with a 19 percent weaker average rand/US dollar exchange and improved chemical prices," the company said.
Sasol said headline earnings per share (EPS) for the six months to the end of December increased 26 percent to 30.19 rand, in line with the group's guidance to the market last month in a trading update.
Headline EPS is the primary measure of profit in South Africa and strips out one-off items.
The group said it had successfully commissioned a project in Lake Charles, Louisiana, which is using unique technology to convert ethylene into higher value chemical products used to strengthen plastic for consumer products such as food packaging.
It said the project "is currently in start-up and first product was successfully produced. We expect that the plant will be fully operational by the middle of the 2014 calendar year."