McDonald's Corp said sales at its U.S. restaurants open at least 13 months rose 2.6 percent in July, aided by its new McCafe espresso-based coffee drinks, sending its shares up nearly 2 percent in premarket trading.

Global same-store sales climbed 4.3 percent. Same-store sales jumped 7.2 percent in Europe and 2.1 percent in the company's Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa segment.

McDonald's said in late last month that it expected July same-store sales to be similar to or better than June's 2.6 percent rise.

The world's largest hamburger chain and some other fast-food restaurants have benefited as the global economic downturn has led diners to seek out lower-priced fare.

McDonald's said systemwide sales slipped 0.3 percent in July but were up 6.2 percent excluding the impact of currency fluctuations.

The company has shifted its advertising toward its core and value menus and away from higher-priced items -- with the exception of its new Angus burger, which is being introduced across the United States.

It also offered free samples of McCafe mocha drinks on Mondays during July to entice U.S. consumers to try the new coffee drinks.

The jump in European same-store sales was led by strong growth in countries such as France and the UK. Momentum in Australia was partially offset by results in China.

Shares of McDonald's rose to $56.20 in premarket trading after closing at $55.20 on Friday on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Reporting by Jessica Wohl; Editing by Derek Caney and John Wallace)