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LONDON, March 19 (Reuters) - J Sainsbury, Britain's third-largest supermarket chain, beat forecasts for underlying sales in its fourth quarter, helped by growth online and in convenience stores.
The group, which trails market leader Tesco and no. 2 player Wal-Mart's Asda by annual revenue, said on Tuesday sales at stores open over a year rose 3.6 percent, excluding fuel, in the 10 weeks to March 16.
That was a 33rd consecutive quarter of underlying sales growth and compared to analysts' average forecast of a rise of 2.3 percent, and growth of 0.9 percent in the third quarter.
Total fourth quarter sales rose 6.3 percent, excluding fuel.
Sainsbury's said it was well positioned to continue to outperform the market in the current year even though it expected the retail environment to remain tough.