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    Wal-Mart December Sales Rise 4.3 Percent

    BENTONVILLE, Ark. - Wal-Mart Stores here said today its December sales at stores open at least a year rose 4.3 percent, near the high end of its estimate, helped by a late surge in Christmas shopping.

    BENTONVILLE, Ark. - Wal-Mart Stores here said today its December sales at stores open at least a year rose 4.3 percent, near the high end of its estimate, helped by a late surge in Christmas shopping.

    Wal-Mart said its fourth-quarter results were tracking near the low end of its earlier forecast of 63 cents to 65 cents per share. According to Reuters Research, analysts were looking for 64 cents a share. Sales during the five-week period, which ended Jan. 2, reached $33.66 billion. Sales were strongest in food, pharmacy, infants, girl's apparel, and toy departments.

    Last year, Wal-Mart reported just a 2.3 percent same-store sales advance for December. It expects January same-store sales to rise 3 percent to 5 percent, aided by gift cards that were bought as Christmas gifts and are often redeemed soon after the holidays.

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