Wal-Mart lowers profits guidance

Walmart logo Wal-Mart says retail markets are challenging

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Wal-Mart has trimmed its trading outlook for this year, citing a range of one-off costs including the closure of some stores in China.

The world's largest retailer said profits were likely to be at, or below, the lower end of financial forecasts.

Specifically, earnings for the current financial quarter, ending this month, would also be at, or below, forecasts.

The restructuring moves undertaken by Wal-Mart included the closure of 50 stores in Brazil and China.

Also, the cost of ending some franchise agreements in India would higher than previously anticipated, Wal-Mart said in a statement.

Bad weather in the US, which closed several stores, contributed significantly to poorer trading in the past few weeks. Cuts in food stamp benefits provided by the US government also weighed on sales.

Wal-Mart is due to report its full-year results on 20 February. Shares in the company fell 1% in early trading on Wall Street, although that was not out of step with the wider market.

But Wal-Mart's warning undermines how retailers are struggling. There has been disappointing news on profits and job cuts recently from other chains, including Best Buy, Sears, and JC Penney.

Also on Friday, toymaker Mattel reported weak sales, sending its shares down 10% at the start of trading.

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