Wal-Mart has posted stronger sales than expected for February, in a boost for the US retail giant.

Like-for-like sales last month were up by 5.1%, the group reported yesterday – well ahead of predictions of a 2.4% increase.

The Asda parent also said it had raised the dividend for shareholders by 15%, prompting the value of shares in the world’s largest retailer to rise by 3%.

“Our free cash flow remains strong enough to fund Wal-Mart's growth around the world, make strategic acquisitions and fund returns to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases,” said chief executive Mike Duke in a statement.