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Facebook revenue and earnings soared in the fourth quarter despite concerns sales could slow as it hits the limit on how many advertisements it puts in the newsfeed.

The world’s largest social network reported non-gaap earnings of $1.41, compared with the average analyst estimate of $1.31 per share. Net income was $3.5bn in the three months until December and $10.2bn for the full year 2016.

Facebook revenue rose 51 per cent to $8.8bn, higher than the consensus forecast for revenue of $8.5bn, with the platform and its subsidiary Instagram becoming essential for marketers in the busy holiday shopping season.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder and chief executive, said: “Our mission to connect the world is more important now than ever. Our business did well in 2016, but we have a lot of work ahead to help bring people together.”

Facebook shares, which have already advanced nearly 16 per cent so far this year, climbed 2.3 per cent in after hours trade.

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