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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 November, 2004, 16:49 GMT
Wal-Mart expects bumper Christmas
Wal-Mart store
The world's largest retail group is on course for a record year
The world's largest retailer Wal-Mart has reported rising profits and said it is optimistic it will see sales accelerate over the festive season.

Wal-Mart said pre-tax profits in the three months to the end of October were $3.5bn (1.8bn), compared with $3.2bn in the same period last year.

It said higher labour and fuel costs were affecting earnings but it was set for record annual profits in 2004.

Global sales at Wal-Mart, which owns UK supermarket Asda, rose 9.7% to $68.5bn.

Sales at its international stores rose by 18% to $13.55bn, the company said.

Like-for-like sales at its US outlets - a measure which strips out the effect of new store openings - rose 1.7% in the quarter, Wal-Mart said.

"I believe sales momentum will accelerate into the holiday," Wal-Mart chief Lee Scott said.

"We should have a better Christmas than last year."

Overall, sales for the year so far were $205bn, up 11.6% on the same point last year.

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