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Exxon Earnings Beat; Oil and Gas Production Down

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Exxon Mobil, the world's largest publicly traded oil company, reported a higher-than-expected 6 percent increase in quarterly profit Friday on stronger results at its chemical and refining businesses. But oil and gas production fell.

The Irving, Texas-based company said profit in the fourth quarter was $9.95 billion, or $2.20 per share, compared with $9.4 billion, or $1.97 per share, in the period a year earlier.

Analysts on average expected a profit of $2 per share, according to Thomson Reuters.

``The beat was in downstream and chemicals,'' said Brian Youngberg, energy company analyst at Edward Jones in St. Louis. ``That's a common theme we are seeing.''

Share prices closed flat Friday. (Click for the latest quotes for Exxon.)

Oil and gas output fell 5.2 percent to 4.29 million barrels oil equivalent per day, Exxon said.

Profit at Exxon's exploration and production business fell 12 percent to $7.76 billion. At its chemicals unit, profit more than doubled to $958 million, and refining earnings were $1.77 billion, up sharply from $425 million a year earlier.

Analysts at Barclays had expected refining earnings of $1.53 billion and a chemicals profit of $786 million.

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