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Oil price hike leads some to pumps, others to bikes

04-07-2011 16:49 BJT

BEIJING, April 7 (Xinhua) -- Dozens of vehicles lined up late Wednesday night at a gas station in Shijiazhuang, capital city of north China's Hebei Province, to have their tanks filled before another fuel price hike.

Vehicles wait to be fueled at a gas station in Shanghai, east China, before the midnight
deadline of price rise, on April 6, 2011. China raised the retail prices for gasoline by
500 yuan (76.34 U.S. dollars) per tonne and diesel by 400 yuan per tonne Thursday, which is
the second price rise this year. (Xinhua/Pei Xin)

China on Thursday increased retail gasoline and diesel prices for the second time this year, as the ongoing conflict in Libya curtailed supplies and post-quake reconstruction in Japan may push up demand.

The ceiling for gasoline prices rose by 500 yuan (76.34 U.S. dollars) per tonne and diesel by 400 yuan per tonne, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the nation's top economic planner, said in a statement.

"I drove to the gas station as soon as I heard about the possible fuel price hike. But there have already been a lot of cars waiting to be filled," a car owner surnamed Wang said.

"'Please top up the petrol tank' is the sentence you hear most often at the gas station right now," Wang added.

INFLATION CONCERNS

The rush to fill-up indicated that people were trying to minimize the impact of the oil price hike. Having tanks completely filled before the price rise could save drivers around 30 yuan.

An attendant helps a driver fill gasoline to his car tank at a gas station in Shanghai,
east China, before the midnight deadline of price rise, on April 6, 2011. China raised the
retail prices for gasoline by 500 yuan (76.34 U.S. dollars) per tonne and diesel by 400
yuan per tonne Thursday, which is the second price rise this year. (Xinhua/Pei Xin)

Budget-conscious Chinese consumers have been keeping an eye on prices these days, especially after the makers of foods, drinks and personal care products also announced price rises.

Experts said the oil price increase would add to inflationary pressure in China, whose consumer price index (CPI), a major gauge of inflation, has remained high since mid-2010.

China's CPI jumped 4.9 percent in February from one year earlier, exceeding the government's full-year target of 4 percent.

"The oil price rise will contribute 0.07 percent to April's CPI increase, "said Zhao Jidong, an official with the National Bureau of Statistics.

The price hike exceeded people's estimates, as China's fuel prices often rise by 0.2 yuan to 0.3 yuan per liter each time.

"I have been surprised by the magnitude of the price rise. It rose as much as 0.4 yuan per liter this time," said Chen Kunsheng, a taxi driver in Nanjing, east China's Jiangsu Province.

The NDRC also said on Wednesday that China would continue subsidizing industries including farming, fishing and public transport to offset higher prices.

"The price hike is not bad news for me, because taxis here use natural gas instead of oil," said Yin Wen, a taxi driver in Shijiangzhuang. "But I worry that the rise could cause a ripple effect, pushing up other prices."


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