Noble Group, the Hong Kong-based commodities group, saw net profit surge 71 per cent to US$343 million in the first six months of this year on the back of record group revenue and higher commodity prices and volumes. Robert van der Zalm, the firm's chief financial officer, said total volumes climbed 13 per cent to 97.9 million tonnes, while revenue soared 63 per cent to US$39.7 billion. Noble also booked a profit of US$60 million from its supply chain assets, which mainly came from a gain from the sale of its Hong Kong-based Fleet Management ship operations and management business. Fleet Management was sold to Noble vice-chairman emeritus Harry Banga for US$75 million in March. Commenting on the results, van der Zalm said: 'Overall, the Noble business is stronger than ever.' He pointed out that the energy and agriculture divisions contributed about 85 per cent of group revenue. The energy business, which includes oil and gas resources, saw total revenue soar to US$26 billion between January and June, up from US$15.48 billion a year earlier. This reflected higher prices plus an increase in tonnage volumes to 51.8 million tonnes, against 45.6 million tonnes in the first half of last year. Revenue at the agricultural division, such as seeds and grains, increased to US$8.52 billion from US$5.28 billion. This was despite poor crushing margins on the mainland, where Noble has soyabean crushing plants. Van der Zalm said 'good progress' had been made in Mongolia to identify opportunities with its strategic partner Xanadu Mines, and he expected the first coking coal operations to start at the end of next year. Turning to the outlook, chief executive Ricardo Leiman said: 'We expect a very volatile world in the next few months.' But he added: 'We see no panic from customers and suppliers.' He said the current uncertainties were to do with 'confidence and sovereign issues'.