China to Probe Unilever, Tingyi Price Increases, Radio Says

China will investigate possible price increases for goods sold by Unilever NV (UNA) and Tingyi Cayman Islands Holding Corp. (322), China National Radio reported.

Policymakers were “highly concerned” about media reports that companies are planning to raise prices on daily consumer goods, the broadcaster said today, citing an unidentified official at the National Development and Reform Commission.

The NDRC has contacted companies to urge them not to “casually” raise prices on consumer goods, the station said. China’s economic planning body will send a team to investigate the cases, according to the report, which identified Unilever and Tingyi as two companies among several under scrutiny.

Consumer prices rose at an annual pace of 4.9 percent in February, exceeding a government target of 4 percent for this year. Premier Wen Jiabao is seeking to prevent price increases from stirring social unrest.

Consumer goods such as laundry products and instant noodles are daily necessities, and price changes will “directly” affect citizens, the broadcaster said, citing the NDRC official.

China’s central bank said yesterday controlling inflation in the world’s fastest-growing major economy remains its main task. The country has raised interest rates three times since mid-October to rein in price gains.

Five calls to Unilever’s Shanghai office and Tingyi’s Tianjin office after business hours today weren’t answered.

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