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    Wal-Mart Sees December Sales Gain

    BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- December looked to have been a much better month for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., compared to November, as the world's largest retailer said it expects to post a 1.6 percent gain in same-store sales for the five-week period, thanks to a boost in holiday sales.

    BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- December looked to have been a much better month for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., compared to November, as the world's largest retailer said it expects to post a 1.6 percent gain in same-store sales for the five-week period, thanks to a boost in holiday sales.

    In November, Wal-Mart had posted its first same-store sales decline in a decade.

    The gain in December beat the company's forecast for flat to 1 percent growth.

    "We believe that Wal-Mart's focus on key categories for holiday, such as consumer electronics and toys, contributed to results," Citigroup analyst Deborah Weinswig wrote in a note to clients. "However, apparel likely remained disappointing, as warm weather exacerbated weak sales trends in the category."

    Wal-Mart began slashing prices on popular gift items, such as toys, high-definition television sets, MP3 players, and computers, early in the holiday shopping season.

    Bear Stearns analyst Christine Augustine said in a client note that Wal-Mart customers likely spent more on each trip to the store during the December period, which helped drive results.

    Wal-Mart is expected to issue a detailed December-period sales report on Jan. 4.

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