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H&M (HNNMY) shares traded firmly higher in Stockholm Monday after the struggling fashion retailer posted solid April sales figures as it attempts to close the gap on rival Inditex (IDEXY)

The world's second largest fashion retailer said sales rose 7% in local currencies last month, matching analysts' expectations in a Reuters poll. H&M said it had 4,474 stores open on April compared with 4,035 at the same time in 2016. Group sales rose 6% in March compared with the same month last year, the company said, slowing slightly in the final days of the Month after the Swedish retailer had estimated that sales in the first three weeks of the month had increased by 7% in local currency terms.

H&M shares gained around 1.1% in the opening hour of trading on the OMX benchmark to change hands at Skr218.2 each, trimming the year-to-date gain to around 13% compared to an 11.65% gain for Zara owner Inditex.

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"Sales in March, April and May should be viewed together, partly because the Easter holiday falls in different months in different years and partly because the weather during this period can vary greatly from year to year," CEO Karl-Johan Persson said at the time.

The retailer's first quarter sales, released in March, lagged forecasts as inventories increased and warned of an increasingly difficult environment for European retailers. H&M said sales in the three months ending in February rose 7% to Skr4.369 million ($6.12 billion) with profits rising to Skr24.466 billion.

H&M is lagging behind rival Inditex, which has experienced double-digit sales growth due in large part to its logistics and business model that allow the retailer to get designs into stores faster.

Inditex shares were marked 0.17% lower in the opening hour of trading in Madrid at €36.24 each.