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China keeps fuel prices unchanged despite pledge

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BEIJING, April 10 (Xinhua) -- China's top price regulator announced Wednesday that fuel prices will remain unchanged this week even though it has pledged to track changes in global oil prices much faster under a new pricing mechanism.

The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China's top economic planner and price regulator, said the prices of oil products would remain the same as average global oil prices were basically "flat" under the new price adjustment cycle.

As part of government efforts to push market-oriented pricing for energy resources, the NDRC announced last month it would shorten the fuel price adjustment cycle to 10 working days from 22 working days to better reflect changes in global oil markets.

Domestic fuel prices will not be changed if global oil price changes are less than 50 yuan per tonne, according to the new pricing regime.

The new pricing regime has also scrapped the 4-percent floating band for oil price changes and adjusts the varieties of crude used to calculate the price changes for domestic oil products.

Previously, domestic fuel prices would be adjusted when prices for Brent, Dubai and Cinta crude oil changed by more than 4 percent over 22 working days.

The market has closely monitored any move by the NDRC on Wednesday as the first 10-working-day price adjustment cycle begins.

The NDRC announcement to keep fuel prices unchanged came just a day after the country reported a lower-than-expected inflation reading in March.

The National Bureau of Statistics said the consumer price index (CPI) rose 2.1 percent year on year in March, well below the 10-month-high of 3.2 percent in February and below the 2.4 percent CPI reading forecast by analysts.

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