UPDATE 3-Exxon's output rises but refining weakness hits profit
* EPS $1.79 v Street view $1.77
* Output up 1.5 percent, first gain since 2011 2nd qtr
* Shares rise 1 percent
By Anna Driver
Oct 31 (Reuters) - Exxon Mobil Corp, the world's largest publicly traded oil company, reported higher-than-expected quarterly results on Thursday as output rose for the first time in more than two years, but refining weakness hurt earnings.
Exxon and other large oil companies struggling to boost production in recent years have spent heavily on new projects. In the first nine months of this year, Exxon alone spent $33 billion.
"This is their first year-over-year (production) increase in more than two years," said Brian Youngberg, an energy company analyst at Edward Jones in St. Louis. "It does show that they are hopefully making some progress stemming the decline that they've shown the last couple of years."
Exxon last reported a quarterly gain in production in the second quarter of 2011.
Third-quarter oil and natural gas output rose 1.5 percent from a year earlier to 4 million barrels oil equivalent per day, helped by the start-up of new projects, the Irving, Texas, company said. Continued...