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McDonald’s sales drop as Asian figures fall

NEW YORK — McDonald’s says a key sales figure dropped again in January as the world’s biggest hamburger chain faced ongoing weakness in Japan and sales in China were hurt by a food scare and the timing of a holiday.

The Oak Brook, Ill., company said global sales at restaurants open at least 13 months dropped 1.9 percent for the month. The figure is a key metric because it strips out the volatility of newly opened and closed locations.

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After years of outperforming rivals, McDonald’s has been struggling amid intensifying competition and challenging economic conditions around the world. Late last year, the company ousted the head of its US business after the sales figure dropped for the first time in nearly a decade. Chief executive Don Thompson, who took the top spot this summer, has vowed to add business by emphasizing value while planning a series of new limited-time offers to attract customers.

But Thompson also warned last month that sales were trending negative for January. The company was also up against a tough comparison from a year ago, when global sales rose 6.7 percent.

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