NEW YORK — Citing the strong performance of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s shares this year and the company’s current high price-to-earnings ratio, investment bank Goldman, Sachs & Co. Wednesday took the retailer’s shares off its recommended list, changing its rating to "market performer." In a research note, Goldman said Wal-Mart’s operations remain sound, explaining "today’s downgrade is purely valuation driven." Goldman noted Wal-Mart will likely continue to perform well if the economy remains weak — which causes consumers to seek bargains — but its shares could be hurt by a recovery. On the news, the retailer’s shares eased $2.67, or 4.7 percent, to close at $53.80 on the New York Stock Exchange Wednesday.

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