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Shares in online auction outfit, QXL Ricardo plc, shot up 23 per cent (a whopping 1.5 pence) on news that it had signed a technology and marketing deal with Microsoft.

QXL plans to offer multi-device access to its auction service for its three million punters in Europe by making use of MS's .NET initiative.

Its services will also be featured via Microsoft's soon-to-be launched Windows XP operating system, as well as through MS's instant messaging service.

Today's tie-up with MS coincides with the publication of QXL's Q4 and full year results.

Turnover for Q4 ended 31 March 2001 was down to £3.12 million from £4.08 million for the same quarter last year. Gross profit was up to £1 million compared to £733,000 in Q4 2000.

Loss on ordinary activities more than halved from £41.4 million in Q4 2000 to £18.6 million.

For the full year turnover more than doubled from £6.9 million to £15 million. Gross profit rose from £741,000 last year to £2.65 million. QXL reported an increased trading loss £49.5 million - up from £32.8 million on the previous year-end. ®

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