Exxon Mobil  (XOM) - Get Report posted stronger-than-expected third quarter earnings Friday, but saw overall profits fall by nearly 50% as global oil prices tumbled amid the U.S.-China trade dispute.

Exxon said earnings for the three months ending in September came in at 75 cents per share, down 48.6% from the same period last year and well ahead of the consensus forecast based on Exxon's earlier profit warning from last month. Net revenues, Exxon said, were pegged at $65 billion, a 15% decline from last year but still ahead of analysts' forecasts of a $64.8 billion tally.

"We are making excellent progress on our long-term growth strategy," said CEO Darren Woods. "Growth in the Permian continues to drive increased liquids production and we are ahead of schedule for first oil in Guyana."

"We are also making good progress on our advantaged investments in the Downstream and Chemical," he added. "This quarter, we started production at our new high-performance polyethylene line in Beaumont. The competitiveness of our portfolio was further enhanced with the divestment of non-strategic assets, reaching almost a third of our 2021 objective of $15 billion."

Exxon shares were marked 1.7% higher at the start of trading following the earnings release to change hands at $68.70 each, a move that would tip the stock in positive territory for the year. 

Average Brent crude oil prices, the global benchmark, have fallen around 23.7% from last year, and retreated 6.6% over the third quarter, as demand fell amid slowing world economic growth and rising U.S. production rates, which hit a record 12.2 million barrels per day last month.