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Wal-Mart's

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sales growth in October came in toward the low end of estimates, according to a preliminary reading from the company.

The world's largest retailer said sales at stores open for at least a year rose 2.8% for the month, helped by bedding products and children's clothes. Earlier, Wal-Mart predicted a gain of 2% to 4%.

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The company said October sales figures were weakened this year because the Halloween shopping season, which is expected to be as strong or stronger than last year's, falls in the November selling period.

On the positive side, pet supplies and food were also among the best-selling items, Wal-Mart said.

The report from the Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer provides an early glimpse at October's retailing results, the bulk of which will come out Thursday.