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Petrobras to Raise Gasoline Prices in 2013, Mantega Says

Petroleo Brasileiro SA, Latin America’s largest oil company by market value, will raise gasoline prices in 2013 as the government eases restrictions that curbed quarterly earnings, Brazil’s finance minister said.

Brazil will “certainly” raise prices and the state-controlled producer known as Petrobras will unveil the increase at the right time, Finance Minister Guido Mantega told reporters in Brasilia today. Mantega is chairman of the Rio de Janeiro-based company.

The government has barred Petrobras from increasing gasoline prices in a bid to stem inflation amid lackluster economic growth. The inability to pass on the cost of imported fuel to consumers partly contributed to Petrobras’s first quarterly loss in 13 years in the second quarter and an unexpected decline in profit in the third quarter. The company’s refining unit has lost $8 billion this year as the company sells gasoline at below cost.

Petrobras boosted prices on gasoline by 7.8 percent in June and diesel in June and July. The government simultaneously cut a tax on fuels to reduce the effect of the increase on inflation.

Petrobras rose 3.8 percent to close at 20.93 reais in Sao Paulo, the biggest increase since Nov. 7.

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