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Centrica Posts Full-Year Loss of $300 Million

Centrica, Britain's largest energy supplier, said Thursday it swung to a loss in the full year after losing customers. But shares in the company rose 4% as the company's residential business returned to profit in the second half and the company raised its dividend.

The loss for the full year through Dec. 31 came to 156 million pounds ($300 million; 229 million euros) compared with a profit of 1.01 billion pounds in the previous year, the company said in a statement.

Revenue rose 22% to 16.45 billion pounds ($32.2 billion; 24.5 billion euros).

The company lost 1 million customers during 2006. British Gas, which is owned by Centrica, increased gas prices seven times since 2002 and electricity tariffs six times.

British Gas said earlier this month it is cutting the price it charges consumers for gas by 17% and electricity prices by 11% in an attempt to win back the customers it lost. The company last cut prices in the spring of 2000.

The company raised its final dividend to 8 pence ($ 0.15; 0.11 euros) from 7.4 pence in the previous year.

British Gas' residential business posted a profit of 95 million pounds ($185.6 million; 141.3 million euros) compared with 90 million pounds in the previous year, recovering from a first-half loss.

British Gas has 16 million gas and electricity customers.

Centrica shares gained 4.1% to 385.5 pence ($7.53; 5.73 euros)on the London Stock Exchange.

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