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Reuters is on a roll.

First, it reported that sales growth slowed last year at the top 500 restaurant chains in the country. The main growth, in fact, was not a full-service operations but at fast-food joints like McDonald’s and counter-service establishments like Panera Bread.

Conversely, the news agency wrote, “Sales in the Mexican, steak and seafood categories declined 1.8 percent, 0.7 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.”

A few hours later, Reuters had more bad news to share:

The embattled U.S. restaurant industry is unlikely to turn around this year as a deepening recession, credit crunch and rising unemployment gnaw at performance, Fitch Ratings said on Monday.

Restaurant traffic will decline overall in 2009, although some operators, such as McDonald’s Corp (MCD.N), will better weather the downturn with mid- to low-end menus.

“Fitch does not anticipate a sustainable turnaround for the restaurant industry in 2009,” it said in a report.

“Unfortunately, conditions that normally would be positive for the industry, such as declining gas prices and additional government stimulus, are being muted by rising unemployment and continued downward pressure on both the housing and stock markets.”

You can read the full Reuters report here, if you have the stomach for it.

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