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China cuts oil prices after new pricing mechanism kicks in
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20:13, January 14, 2009

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China said it would cut benchmark retail gasoline and diesel prices by 2 percent and 3.2 percent, respectively, as of midnight Wednesday.

Prices were last cut less than a month ago, on Dec. 19. At that time, benchmark gasoline and diesel prices were lowered by 14 percent and 18 percent, respectively.

The latest cuts were the first since the new pricing mechanism for refined oil products took effect on Jan. 1, 2009.

The benchmark gasoline price will be reduced by 140 yuan (30 U.S. dollars) per tonne, or 2 percent, while that for diesel will be slashed by 160 yuan per tonne, or 3.2 percent, said the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).

An unidentified NDRC official said the latest cut was made to reflect declines in global crude prices in recent months.

"There is still room for a further cut in domestic oil prices despite recent fluctuations in global prices," the official said.

Crude prices settled at 37.78 U.S. dollars a barrel Tuesday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The price was about 40 dollars a barrel when China last cut domestic prices in December.

Prices are down more than 70 percent from a mid-July peak of 147 dollars a barrel.

Under the new pricing mechanism, China's domestic prices are to be "indirectly linked" to global crude prices "in a controlled manner".

Government-set fuel prices were formerly changed infrequently. As a result, Chinese drivers were paying much more than those in many other countries before the cut last month.

Source: Xinhua

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