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Wal-Mart Sales Better Than Expected

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) on Thursday said October sales rose 4.3 percent at U.S. stores open at least a year and forecast similar growth for November, the start of the vital holiday shopping season.

Wal-Mart (search), the world's biggest retailer, said total sales rose 10.5 percent to $23.26 billion in the four-week period that ended Oct. 28.

The same-store sales figure matched the preliminary number that Wal-Mart gave on Saturday, which was better than analysts had originally expected.

For November, Wal-Mart expects a 3 percent to 5 percent increase in same-store sales, its highest monthly forecast since August, when it also predicted 3 percent to 5 percent growth.

Last year, Wal-Mart's November same-store sales rose a scant 0.7 percent and it was criticized for keeping prices too high during the key day-after-Thanksgiving sale — known in the industry as Black Friday (search) because it traditionally marked the point when retailers turned a profit for the year.

Wal-Mart, which makes a profit in all four quarters, calls the day after Thanksgiving "Blitz Day" and has already said that it will aggressively cut prices and increase its advertising to drive stronger sales.