UPDATE 1-Exxon Mobil profit halves on weak oil prices, chemicals margins

Jennifer Hiller

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HOUSTON, Nov 1 (Reuters) - Exxon Mobil Corp's third-quarter profit nearly halved, hit by lower oil prices and weaker margins in refining and chemicals, with its three major business reporting lower year-over-year profit.

Earnings fell to $3.17 billion, or 75 cents per share, in the quarter, from $6.24 billion, or $1.46 per share, a year earlier, the company reported on Friday.(http://bit.ly/2WxMI0q)

It beat analysts' recently reduced expectations for earnings of 67 cents per share. The company last month warned of weaker chemicals results and lower oil prices, prompting analysts to reduce estimates from 86 cents per share.

Exxon's results mirrored weaker results at rivals BP Plc and Royal Dutch Shell, which earlier this week indicated they might delay dividend increases or a buyback program because of low prices. Prices have fallen for oil and gas as U.S. shale producers keep pumping more oil amid slowing global consumption growth.

Exxon's oil equivalent production rose about 3% to 3.89 million barrels per day, the fourth quarter in a row of year-over year gains.

Its production in the Permian Basin, the top U.S. shale field, rose 7% from the second quarter to around 293,000 barrels of oil equivalent daily. (Reporting by Jennifer Hiller in Houston and Arathy S Nair in Bengaluru Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Steve Orlofsky)