Exxon Mobil Corp ( XOM.N ), the world’s largest publicly traded oil producer, posted a higher-than-expected quarterly profit on Friday as higher crude and natural gas prices more than offset the effects of a major hurricane on U.S. operations.  The results highlighted Exxon’s strength in refining as it managed to increase profits at its U.S. downstream operations despite Hurricane Harvey, which shuttered many of the company’s largest U.S. Gulf Coast refineries in late August. Production of oil and gas also increased, even in the United States despite the storm, helped by higher pricing. “A 50 percent increase in earnings through solid business performance and higher commodity prices is a step forward in our plan to grow profitability,” Darren Woods, Exxon’s chief executive officer, said in a statement. […]