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CORRECTED-UPDATE 2-Shell raises its dividend as profits surge

(Corrects net debt in paragraph 6 to $71.3 billion from $74.4 billion)

* Adjusted earnings rise to $3.23 billion

* Net debt decreases but still above $65 bln threshold

* Shell warns of ‘significant uncertainty’ on demand outlook

* GRAPHIC: Shell's earnings tmsnrt.rs/2PxV4q1

LONDON, April 29 (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell’s profits leapt to $3.23 billion in the first three months of the year and the energy company raised its dividend as planned but warned on Thursday that the outlook remained uncertain due to the pandemic.

Shell’s adjusted earnings came in ahead of an average analyst forecast of $3.125 billion and were also above earnings of $2.9 billion last year, boosted by assets sales as well as higher oil and liquefied natural gas prices.

Shell said its fuel sales fell 13% in the first quarter due to further lockdown measures and the impact of the Texas storm in February, saying there was still “significant uncertainty” over the outlook for demand in the second quarter.

The Anglo-Dutch company raised its dividend in the first quarter by 4% as planned, the second increase since its slashed its payout by two-thirds at the start of last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Shell’s cash flow from operations, a key performance metric, rose to $8.3 billion from $6.3 billion, helping reduce its debt to $71.3 billion.

Shell wants to get its net debt below $65 billion as part of its strategy to shift to low-carbon energy in the coming decades.

Norway’s Equinor also raised its dividend and posted a bigger-than-expected rise in first-quarter operating profits on Thursday, boosted by higher oil and gas prices as well as large one-off gains at its renewable energy business.

Reporting by Ron Bousso; Editing by David Clarke

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