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Wal-Mart Says December Sales Low

The retailing giant's same-store sales for the holiday month come in at the low end of guidance.
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December was less cheery for


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than the company had predicted.

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The world's largest retailer estimates that same-store U.S. sales for the five weeks ended Friday were up only 2.2%. That's at the low end of the 2% to 4% range the company had forecast. The same-store figure measures sales at stores open at least a year and is a closely watched barometer of retailers' health.

In the latest week, Wal-Mart estimates that same-store sales of general merchandise were stronger than those of food. The strongest region was the Southeast.

Wal-Mart will release final sales results for December on Thursday.

The company's shares ended the week at $46.80.