Wal-Mart Stores Inc reported a lower-than-expected 1.4 percent rise in March sales at U.S. stores open at least a year, but the discount retailer said it expected quarterly earnings to be at the high end of its forecast.

Analysts on average were expecting Wal-Mart's same-store sales to rise 3.2 percent, excluding fuel, according to Reuters Estimates.

The retailer said on Thursday that traffic in its U.S. discount stores rose for the sixth consecutive month, but customers, on average, spent less during their visits.

Wal-Mart said it expected U.S. same-store sales for the 13 weeks through May 1 to be around the high end of its forecast for a gain of 1 percent to 3 percent.

For its fiscal first quarter, the retailer said it expected earnings per share from continuing operations to be toward the high end of its range of 72 cents to 77 cents per share.

(Reporting by Nicole Maestri; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)