China cuts Fuel Prices Amid Stimulus Efforts

BEIJING (AP) -- China cut fuel prices Wednesday for the second time in a month, giving another break to struggling companies and motorists as it steps up efforts to break out of a deepening economic slump.

Gasoline prices will fall by 2 percent and those of diesel by 3.2 percent, effective Thursday, in line with lower global crude prices, the Cabinet's planning agency said in a brief statement.

The cuts will help trucking companies, airlines, factories and others that are desperate to cut costs as sales slow due to global economic turmoil and weakening domestic demand.

The announcement by the National Development and Reform Commission gave no details of how the cuts would translate into prices per gallon (liter) for different grades of fuel or in different parts of the country.

The government announced a multibillion-dollar economic stimulus package in November, has cut taxes for exporters and has promised additional steps to help producers of autos and steel and others.

Light, sweet crude was just under $39 a barrel on Wednesday in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices have fallen from as high as $50.47 last week on investor concern a slowing global economy will hurt demand.

The latest fuel price cuts come on top of 18 percent and 13.8 reductions for diesel and gasoline, respectively, on Dec. 19.

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On the Net:

National Development and Reform Commission (in Chinese): http://www.ndrc.gov.cn

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