Exxon Mobil Corp, the world's largest publicly traded oil company, reported a higher quarterly profit that missed Wall Street estimates as its international refining business and output fell short.

Shares of company fell 2 percent to $81.60 in early New York Stock Exchange trading.

"The culprit was downstream, more specifically international downstream," Pavel Molchanov, oil analyst at Raymond James, said.

Exxon's refining operations had a profit of $1.36 billion in the quarter. Molchanov had expected a profit of $2 billion for the unit, he said.

Even with the earnings miss, Exxon's profit was the highest in nearly three years, lifted by a jump in crude oil and higher natural gas prices.

Improvement in the world's economies has driven up demand for fuel, especially in developing countries like China. That demand and other factors helped push WTI crude prices up 32 percent from a year-earlier in the second quarter to an average of about $102 per barrel.

The company's second-quarter profit rose 41 percent to $10.68 billion, or $2.18 per share, up from $7.56 billion, or $1.60 per share a year ago.

Wall Street analysts on average had expected Exxon to report a profit of $2.33 per share, according to data compiled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Oil and gas output rose to 4.4 million barrels oil equivalent per day, up 10 percent from 4 million barrels oil equivalent per day a year earlier. Gains were fueled by the company's projects in Qatar and natural gas.

"It looks like the international businesses were a little bit short, but they may blame that on foreign exchange," Phil Weiss, oil analyst at Argus, said. "Production was also a little light."

A number of Exxon's peers including U.S. rival ConocoPhillips reported lower production this quarter, but Exxon's 2010 purchase of XTO Energy has helped boost its output.

Profit in the company's exploration and production unit rose 60 percent to $8.54 billion. Chemicals income fell 3.4 percent to $1.32 billion.

Exxon said it spent a record $10.3 billion in the quarter.

Exxon's revenue rose to $125.49 billion from $92.47 billion.