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China to Increase Fuel Prices for First Time Since September

China will raise fuel prices for the first time since September amid a gain in oil benchmarks since the start of the year.

Gasoline will increase by 300 yuan ($48) a metric ton and diesel by 290 yuan a ton effective tomorrow, the National Development and Reform Commission said in a statement on its website today.

The pump price of 90-RON, China III gasoline in Beijing will rise 3.1 percent to 10,030 yuan a ton, or $4.55 a U.S. gallon, according to Bloomberg calculations from NDRC data. The price for North Sea Brent crude has increased by 2.7 percent this year, while U.S West Texas Intermediate added 1.4 percent in the period.

“According to recent development in international oil prices, we decided to increase finished oil product prices,” the NDRC said. The government will continue to subsidize the farming and public transportation industries to offset the impact of costlier fuel, it said.

This is the first increase in Chinese fuel prices since September, when the NDRC increased gasoline by 550 yuan per ton and diesel prices by 540 yuan. The government cut gasoline by 310 yuan and diesel by 300 yuan in November.

Gasoline and diesel prices are set by the NDRC under a system that tracks the 22-day moving average of a basket of crudes comprising Brent, Dubai and Indonesia’s Cinta. The government may adjust fuel rates when the measure changes more than 4 percent from the last modification. It has increased 4.73 percent since prices were cut on Nov. 16.

The NDRC adjusted fuel prices eight times in 2012, raising them four times and cutting them four times.

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