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Wal-Mart’s Massmart Sales Growth Slows on Lower Spending

Massmart Holdings Ltd., South Africa’s biggest food and goods wholesaler, said sales growth slowed during the first half of the year amid a downturn in consumer spending.

The company, in which Bentonville, Arkansas-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has a controlling stake, said same-store sales climbed 5.5 percent in the 26 weeks through June 23, compared with a 7.3 percent rise in the half year through Dec. 23. Inflation for the period was estimated at 2.9 percent, the Johannesburg-based company said in a statement. Sales advanced 8.9 percent to 32.3 billion rand ($3.2 billion).

South African retail-sales growth slowed to 1.9 percent in April, a six-month low, as slower economic growth and rising joblessness curbed consumer spending. The unemployment rate climbed to 25.2 percent in the first quarter from 24.9 percent in the previous three months, as the labor force expanded and the retail, finance and construction industries cut jobs. The economy grew at its slowest pace since a 2009 recession in the first quarter.

Massmart, which owns the cash and carry chain Makro and DIY specialist Builders Warehouse, rose 1 percent to 173.35 rand in Johannesburg. The volume of shares traded was 50 percent of the three-month daily average.

The company will release full financial results for the period on Aug. 22.

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