US retail giant Wal-Mart has stayed coy over reports it is considering opening its first stores in south-east Asia.

Reports this week have suggested the world's largest retailer is looking to expand in south-east Asia as US consumers are spending less in a tightening economy.

Vicente Trius, who leads Wal-Mart's business in Asia, told Reuters this week that growth from the company's overseas business will outstrip the growth it will see domestically.

"I foresee international will outpace the US in terms of percentage of growth," Prius said. "We should be approaching the US$100bn mark this year for international."

However, when contacted by just-food today (4 September), a Wal-Mart spokesperson said: "Part of the role of the new regional office is to look at business opportunities across Asia. He [Vincent] did not name specific countries and we have made no announcements."

Last month, Wal-Mart raised its full-year earnings outlook after witnessing a surge in first-half net sales.

During the first six months of the fiscal year, Wal-Mart saw sales rise 10.3% to US$177.4bn. The gains were driven by the company's international businesses, where sales increased by 19.3% to $41.2bn.

Wal-Mart president and CEO Lee Scott said that the retailer was well positioned to benefit from the global economic downturn.