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NEW YORK (AP) – Exxon says it earned nearly $11 billion in the first quarter, a performance that will likely land it in the center of the national debate over high gasoline prices.

The world’s largest publicly traded company on Thursday reported net income of $10.65 billion, or $2.14 per share, in the first three months of the year. That compares with $6.3 billion, or 1.33 per share. Revenue increased 26 percent to $114 billion.

Analysts had expected earnings of $2.04 per share on sales of $112.6 billion, according to FactSet.

The quarter was Exxon Mobil Corp.’s best since earning a record-setting $14.83 billion in 2008’s third quarter. It comes at a time when some drivers are paying $4 or more for gas and President Obama is threatening the oil industry’s multi-billion tax subsidies.

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