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Microsoft’s Xbox 360 was the top-selling console in January in the United States, marking its 25th straight month atop the U.S. console market, according to statistics released this afternoon by the NPD market research firm. The company finished ahead of the PlayStation 3, Wii and Wii U.

Xbox 360 sold 281,000 units for the month, which was actually up from 270,000 units in January 2012, a rare increase in a declining console market. However, this January was technically a five-week month for retailers, vs. the four-week January 2012, creating more time for sales.

Microsoft’s Xbox business benefited in part from substantial redemption of gift cards after Christmas, said Xbox spokesman David Dennis. Sony and Nintendo didn’t release specific numbers for their January console sales, but Microsoft said Xbox 360 maintained a 44 percent share of the market for current-generation consoles.

Although Microsoft has led the U.S. market for more than two years now, Sony’s PlayStation franchise, including sales of the PS3 and PS2, finished 2012 back atop the worldwide console market.

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