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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 February 2006, 13:06 GMT
Laptops boost Wal-Mart's profits
Wal-Mart store in New Jersey, United States
Wal-Mart is the world's biggest retailer
Retail giant Wal-Mart has posted higher quarterly profits after a successful holiday period built on sales of laptop computers and gift cards.

The world's biggest retailer said net income rose to $3.6bn (2.06bn) in the fourth quarter to 31 January, from $3.2bn a year earlier.

US net sales rose 8.6% to $89.3bn, despite US consumers being hit with steeper petrol and home heating bills.

In the UK, Asda stores' sales were up 9.6%, and operating profit up 14.1%.

Wal-Mart has been tackling rising costs in the past year, particularly for energy and health care. Over the past year its shares have fallen by about 12%.

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