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August 27, 2008

Vietnam: Retail petrol prices trimmed again
Vietnam slashed retail petrol prices by 5.6 percent on Wednesday, the second cut in two weeks following a slight drop in world crude prices, reported Reuters.

The popular 92-octane grade gasoline is now retailed at 17,000 dong ($1.03) per litre, down from 18,000 dong, an official of Vietnam's top fuel importer and retailer Petrolimex said.

"If world prices further drop, Petrolimex will do it accordingly," she told Reuters.

The price of the 95-octane petrol grade dropped to 17,500 dong per litre from 18,500 dong, kerosene eased by 1,000 dong to 18,000 dong per litre while diesel prices remained unchanged at 15,950 dong per litre.

Petrol companies are allowed to set their own prices for the 95-octane and 90-octane grades but the price reduction should be greater than 500 dong per litre, a Trade and Industry Ministry directive said.

Vietnam, which relies almost entirely on oil product imports as it lacks refineries, slashed retail petrol prices by 5.3 percent on Aug 14 but the new prices are still nearly 25 percent higher than levels at the beginning of this year.

US crude CLc1 settled up $1.16 at $116.27 a barrel on Wednesday as traders feared Hurricane Gustav could damage U.S. oil and natural gas installations in the Gulf of Mexico. But prices are well off record highs of above $147 hit in July.

The impact of the latest petrol price cut would be reflected in Vietnam's consumer price index in September.

Oil product prices directly contributed 2.58 percent to the consumer price index basket.

Prior to the petrol price cuts on Wednesday, experts from the government's domestic market regulatory group forecast the monthly inflation in September would be between 1 percent and 1.2 percent, against a monthly rise of 1.56 percent this month.

Soaring food and fuel prices have driven annual inflation in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam's business centre and the country's largest city, to 27.5 percent this month, the city's statistics department said last week.

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