PARIS, July 17 Carrefour, Europe's largest retailer, said on Thursday that like-for-like sales growth accelerated in the second quarter, reflecting improving trends in austerity-hit Southern Europe and notably Italy.
The world's largest retailer after Wal-Mart said second-quarter sales were 20.517 billion euros ($27.75 billion), above the average forecast of 20.384 billion euros ($27.57 billion) in a Reuters poll of analysts.
Stripping out fuel and currencies, revenue grew 4.9 percent in the quarter, an acceleration from 3.7 percent growth in the first quarter.
Italy returned to sales growth for the first time in five years thanks to a promotional campaign linked to the World Cup.
Elsewhere in Europe, sales rose in Spain for the third consecutive quarter, while revenue at French hypermarkets grew for a fifth quarter in a row.
Closely watched same-store sales at French hypermarkets rose 0.4 percent after a 0.7 percent increase in the first quarter 2014.
Growth in Brazil, Carrefour's largest market after France, accelerated in the quarter, while trading conditions remained weak in China.
($1 = 0.7395 Euros) (Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Maya Nikolaeva)