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China's economy regulator denies fuel price hike (05/28/09)


BEIJING, May 28 (Xinhua) -- China's fuel price will remain at current level and will not be increased during the weekend, said an official from the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) on Thursday.

The official who declined to be named told Xinhua the country would not increase prices for gasoline and diesel during the three-day Dragon Boat Festival period starting from Thursday.

But he said it is "hard to say" whether the price would be increased in June.

This is in response to a rising expectation that China will increase fuel price on Thursday as the crude oil price staged strong rally in the past few months in the world market.

Crude price topped 63 U.S. dollars per barrel on New York Mercantile Exchange on Thursday. Light, sweet crude for July delivery rose 1 dollar a barrel to settle at 63.45 U.S. dollars.

Some analysts predicted that a possible increase in fuel price might be unveiled on May 28, citing the country's new oil pricing mechanism, which came out in early May.

The new pricing mechanism rules that the country would adjust domestic fuel prices when global crude prices report a daily fluctuation band of more than 4 percent for 22 working days in a row.

Zhong Jian, chief analyst with the oil gas web said although the world price hike has enabled the government to rise domestic fuel price, the country may delay the time line in consideration of big fuel consumers such as transport and agricultural industries.

Dong Xiucheng, China University of Petroleum professor echoed Zhong, saying the government just plays the role of rules maker, instead of a pricing organ. The price is fixed on various factors, Dong said.



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