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21 November 2006 Angelo Coppola

The London market was mixed last week amid tame US inflation numbers and falling oil and metals prices, reports Quentin Smith from Old Mutual in the UK.

Over the week the All-Share lost 0.1% as the FTSE 100 was down 0.3%, while midcaps rose 0.5% and smaller companies had a strong week, advancing 1.9%. The technology sector was among the weeks strongest, benefiting from positive sector comment, while mining and oil & gas weakened on falling underlying prices.

InterContinental Hotels Group (-1.0% to 1044p), the world's largest hotel company, said third quarter profit more than tripled after the sale of assets to focus on franchising properties. They own the Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza chains, has sold properties including the Carlton Cannes and the Amstel Amsterdam to concentrate on franchising.

EasyJet (+3.6%), Europe's second largest discount airline, reported a 59% rise in full year profit on increased passenger numbers and higher ticket prices. The company has restricted the growth of its fleet and targeted business travellers to boost ticket prices.

The airline carried 33m passengers in the year, an 11.5% increase from a year earlier.

Vodafone Group (+2.2%), the world's largest mobile phone company, reported a 5.7% rise in first half operating profit as it signed up more subscribers in Egypt, Turkey, South Africa and Romania.

Revenue and profit grew 50% in developing countries, compared with declines in Germany and Italy. Vodafone sold its Japan and Sweden units for $15.8bn as part of its strategy to exit countries where it failed to gain market share.

In mature markets Vodafone is cutting costs and offering services including broadband to boost profit outside of its traditional wireless business.

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