MUMBAI, Jan 18 (Reuters) - Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries Ltd posted its first profit increase after four quarters of declining returns, buoyed by stronger oil refining margins.
Net profit rose 24 percent to 55.02 billion rupees ($1.01 billion) for the fiscal third quarter that ended in December from 44.4 billion rupees a year earlier, Reliance said on Friday.
Reliance, which operates the world's biggest refining complex, in western India, was expected to post a net profit of 51.2 billion rupees, according to Thomson Reuters data.
The company posted an average gross refining margin of $9.6 per barrel for the quarter, compared to $6.8 in the same period last year.
Reliance has looked to widen beyond its core energy business in recent years, and has outlined a big drive into consumer-focused sectors such as telecoms, retail, and financial services.