Updated from 9:15 a.m. EDT

Wal-Mart ( WMT), the world's largest retailer, gave an upbeat forecast for its quarterly earnings on Thursday, but its shares were falling after its monthly same-store sales missed estimates.

The company said its earnings from continuing operations for the first quarter will be toward the high end of the range of 72 cents to 77 cents a share it offered in February. On average, analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial are looking for 76 cents.

However, Wal-Mart's projection came as the merchandiser said its total U.S. same-store sales rose 1.4%, excluding the impact of fuel sales, for the five weeks ended April 3. Expectations were for an increase more on the order of 3%.

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Including fuel, comparable sales were up 0.7%. Total sales for the period fell 1.9% from a year earlier to $36.21 billion.

The profit guidance wasn't enough to offset the same-store sales figure, and shares of Wal-Mart were falling 4.2% to $50.41.

Wal-Mart was one of only two components of the Dow Jones Industrial Average that were sitting out the market's rally. The Dow was recently up 2.3% at 8020.

Elsewhere in the retail sector, a number of readings were better than expected, even those chains that had lower results than a year ago.

Target ( TGT) said its comps were down 6.3% in March, but analysts were calling for a drop of more than 7%. Following its report, shares of Target were up 6% at $39.87.

At Gap ( GPS), same-store sales were supposed to fall 9.9% last month. However, the apparel seller surprised to the upside with a decrease of 8%, and its stock advanced 4.1% to $15. Similarly, Limited's ( LTD) comps fell 9%, while analysts had predicted a 12% slide. Shares were up 7.4% at $10.30.

Kohl's ( KSS) slightly exceeded estimates, posting a 4.3% decline, as did Macy's ( M), with a 9.2% falloff.

The S&P Retail Index was up 3.7%.

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