Stockholm — Sweden’s H&M, the world’s second-biggest fashion retailer, posted local-currency sales growth for its fiscal first quarter that matched analysts’ forecasts, on Friday, while net sales were slightly higher than expected. Local-currency sales including VAT in the December-February period rose 4% from a year earlier, in line with the mean forecast in a Reuters poll of analysts. That was the third straight quarter with rising local-currency sales. H&M, whose main rival is market leader Inditex, said in a statement net sales excluding VAT were up 10% to 51.0-billion krona ($5.49bn) versus expectations for an 8% rise to 49.9-billion. The company, which is due to publish its full first-quarter earnings report on March 29, did not comment on the figures. H&M has seen profits shrink and inventories bank up in recent years due to slowing footfall at its core brand's stores in the face of a shift online and mounting competition, as well as difficulties in reacting fast enough to de...

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