NEW YORK (AP) – Apple Inc.’s famous veil of secrecy appears to have stretched thin in trying to cover thousands and thousands of Wal-Mart stores.

A Wal-Mart employee in Uniondale, N.Y., told The Associated Press on Monday that the store will start selling Apple’s iPhone, confirming media reports over the weekend.

The employee, who would not give his name, did not know when the phones would go on sale, and said the store had no merchandise yet. The San Jose Mercury News reported late Friday that store employees in California said the phone would be on sale by the last week of December, and maybe before Christmas.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. would be the second independent retail chain after Best Buy Inc. to sell the phone. The phone is also sold at Apple and AT&T Inc. stores.

Wal-Mart spokeswoman Anna Taylor said the company had no announcement about iPhone sales. Apple spokesman Steve Dowling had no comment.

From the launch of the second-generation iPhone on July 11 to the end of September, Apple sold 6.9 million units, making it one of the world’s most popular phones. The iPhone 3G is sold in two versions, with 8 or 16 gigabytes of memory. In the U.S., the price is $199 or $299, respectively.

Apple shares rose $4.55, or 4.8 percent, to $98.55 in midday trading as U.S. market indexes also rose. Wal-Mart shares fell 96 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $57.25.

AP-ES-12-08-08 1307EST

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