March 1 - Wal-Mart Stores Inc raised its annual dividend by about 9 percent on Thursday, bringing the payout up to $1.59 per share.

The increase comes after Walmart U.S., the biggest division of the world's largest retailer, started to see sales and traffic rebound. Wal-Mart has raised its dividend every year since it first declared a dividend of 5 cents per share in 1974.

(Reporting by Jessica Wohl in Chicago; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick)