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UK supermarket Sainsbury's lifts outlook after bumper Christmas

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London (AFP)

British supermarket chain Sainsbury's hiked its profits outlook on Wednesday after logging record sales over the Christmas holiday period.

Total sales grew 1.2 percent in the group's third quarter -- or 15 weeks to January 6 -- compared with a year earlier, Sainsbury's said in a trading update.

The London-listed company also expects to achieve further cost-savings from its 2016 acquisition of catalogue chain Argos.

Sainsbury's added that full-year underlying profit before tax was now expected to be "moderately ahead" of expectations.

Analysts had predicted underlying earnings of £559 million ($757 million, 634 million euros), according to consensus forecasts published last week.

"We're pleased with our performance across the group this quarter," said Chief Executive Mike Coupe.

"We had a strong Christmas week, with record sales, over 340,000 online grocery orders and stellar growth in Argos fast-track delivery and collection. "

Online sales meanwhile accounted for one fifth of the group's total sales during the period.

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