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Dominion Diamond sales rise on improved global demand

REUTERS - Dominion Diamond Corp (DDC.TO) (DDC.N), formerly Harry Winston Diamond Corp, on Wednesday reported an increase in fourth-quarter sales on rising demand in the United States, China and India.

Sales from continuing operations rose 8 percent to $110.1 million, the Toronto-based company said in a statement.

The retail jewelry market improved, led by Diwali and the wedding season in India, a positive year-end holiday season in the United States and improved consumer demand in China.

Rough diamond production during the quarter increased 19 percent to 1.9 million carats.

Net income from continuing operations fell slightly in the quarter ended Jan 31 to $12.1 million, or 14 cents per share, from $12.7 million, or 15 cents per share, a year earlier.

In January, the company agreed to sell its luxury jewelry business to Switzerland's Swatch (UHR.VX) and focus on its diamond mines. It also renamed itself Dominion Diamond.

Net profit from discontinued operations, which includes a luxury brand segment, fell to $2.8 million in the quarter.

Flush with cash from the Swatch deal, Dominion is expected to consider buying Rio Tinto's diamond operations as Rio has said it could pull out of the diamond business.

Dominion owns 40 percent of Diavik, a diamond mine in Canada's Northwest Territories. Rio Tinto (RIO.L) (RIO.AX) owns the rest of that mine.

In 2013, Dominion Diamond's Diavik Diamond Mine is expected to produce about 6 million carats, down from 7.2 million carats in 2012, the company said.

Separately, in November, Toronto-based Dominion agreed to buy BHP Billiton's (BLT.L) (BHP.AX) stake in the Ekati diamond mine in northern Canada, betting that rising prices could extend the life of the country's oldest diamond mine.

On Monday, Dominion said it had secured all necessary regulatory approvals for that deal, and expected it to close on or about April 10.

(Reporting by Aditi Shrivastava and Allison Martell; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Grant McCool)