PARIS Jan 17 (Reuters) - Carrefour, Europe's biggest retailer, said fourth-quarter like-for-like sales rose 0.4 percent, reflecting further signs of improvement in its core French market but still difficult trading conditions in austerity-hit Spain and Italy.
The group also said it was comfortable with the current median analyst consensus for 2012 recurring operating income, which stands at around 2.07 billion euros ($2.75 billion).
The performance of France, which makes over 40 percent of group sales, is key for investors to assess whether Carrefour can finally come to grips with years of underperformance in Europe, where hypermarkets have been hit by competition from specialist stores and trends toward local and online shopping.
The world's largest retailer after Wal-Mart said fourth-quarter sales were 22.853 billion euros, in line with the average 22.9 billion forecast in a Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S poll.
Stripping out fuel and currencies, revenue in France eased 0.8 percent after a 1.5 percent decline in the third quarter.
Same-store sales at French hypermarkets fell 2.0 percent against a 3.3 percent fall in the third quarter and a 5.7 percent fall in the second quarter. ($1 = 0.7521 euros) (Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by James Regan)