McDonald's first quarter profit hit by drop in US sales

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McDonald's has reported a fall in profits for the first three months of the year after sales in its US restaurants fell by more than expected.

The fast-food chain said group like-for-like sales had risen 0.5% overall, but US sales had fallen 1.7% due partly to the severe winter weather.

Analysts had forecast a 1.4% drop in like-for-like US sales.

The sales drop meant net income fell to $1.2bn (£710m) from $1.27bn a year earlier.

In Europe, comparable sales rose 1.4% in the first quarter with a positive performance in the UK, France and Russia.

However, McDonald's said sales in Germany, Japan and Australia were weaker.

The firm said it was focused on stabilising its performance in these markets, as well as the US.

McDonald's, which is the world's largest fast food business, has been battling against weak economic growth in its home US market.

The company's chief executive has previously said he plans to strengthen the chain's appeal to its less well off customers.

It also intends to offer new higher-priced products to keep drawing in customers who are prepared to spend more.

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