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Exxon profit halved by tumbling crude price; shares drop

A view of the Exxon Mobil refinery in Baytown, Texas September 15, 2008. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi

(Reuters) - Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) reported lower-than-expected second-quarter results on Friday as tumbling crude prices halved profit at the world's largest publicly traded oil company.

Profit at Exxon's exploration and production business fared even more poorly with a profit of $2 billion, down sharply from $7.9 billion a year earlier.

The company's shares fell 2 percent to $81.40 in premarket trading.

Crude prices in the quarter fell more than 40 percent from a year earlier, hit by growing global supplies and worries about slowing demand from China.

Exxon, based in Irving, Texas, said it earned $4.2 billion, or $1.00 per share, in the quarter, compared with $8.8 billion, or $2.05 per share.

Analysts, on average, had expected a profit of $1.11 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Oil and gas output grew 3.6 percent to 4 million barrels oil equivalent per day (boed).

(Reporting by Anna Driver; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Bernadette Baum)