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China raises fuel prices amid easing inflation

(Xinhua)

08:06, March 20, 2012

A gas station staff operates a fuel pump in Yinchuan, capital of northwest China's ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, March 19, 2012. China will raise both gasoline and diesel prices by 600 yuan (95 U.S. dollars) per tonne starting from March 20, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the country's top economic planning body, announced Monday evening. The adjustment will raise the benchmark retail prices of gasoline by 0.44 yuan per liter and diesel by 0.51 yuan per liter, said NDRC. (Xinhua/Wang Peng)

BEIJING, March 19 (Xinhua) -- China will increase gasoline and diesel prices by 600 yuan (95 U.S. dollars) per tonne beginning Tuesday, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) announced Monday evening.

The adjustment will raise the benchmark retail price of gasoline by 0.44 yuan per liter and diesel by 0.51 yuan per liter, the country's top economic planning body said in a statement on its website.

The latest decision to raise the prices came after international crude oil prices climbed more than 10 percent since Feb. 8, when the retail prices of both gas and diesel was raised by 300 yuan per tonne each, according to the statement.

Since then, international oil prices have registered large increases due to the impact from the nuclear crisis in Iran and other factors, the statement said.

The Chinese government adopted an oil pricing mechanism at the start of 2009 that allows the NDRC to adjust retail fuel prices when international crude oil prices change by more than 4 percent over 22 working days.

Analysts say the necessary price changes have finally come, although at a delayed date.

"By March 8, average crude oil prices in the Brent, Dubai and Cinta markets had risen by 8.92 percent over 22 working days, but the NDRC did not announce the price hikes, as China's annual parliamentary session was being held," said Hu Huichun, an oil market analyst from SCI, a leading commodity information portal.

Analysts say the size of the price hikes is largely in line with market expectations. Previous market estimates put the price hike between 400 yuan and 700 yuan per tonne.

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