Wal-Mart Stores has posted a "modest" fiscal second-quarter profit despite solid sales gains.

And J.C. Penney the Plano, Texas owner of department stores, posted a loss of $69m.

Experts say Wal-Mart's relatively subdued results show the cautious, sensitive nature of the current consumer market.

Wal-Mart saw its net income increase by just 1.6 per cent on strong sales in its warehouse and international division.

This compares with a jump of 28 per cent for the same period the previous year.

The company reported a net income of $1.62bn for the period ended July 31 compared with $1.6bn for the same period last year.

J.C. Penney posted a loss of $69m. In the year earlier quarter, the company had net income of $23m.

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