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Rigged Steel Price Hikes Warned
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China's top economic planner said on Thursday efforts should be made to curb "drastic fluctuations" of domestic steel prices which have been rising for seven consecutive weeks.


The National Development and Reform Commissions (NDRC) said the domestic demand and export of steel products should be controlled. It warned against coordinated actions to bid up the prices of steels.


According to the nation's market watchdog, the average price of four types of major steel products rose by 17.8 percent to 4,358 yuan (573.4 U.S. dollars) last week compared with the same period of last year.


Surging domestic demands, a slight decline in supplies and soaring iron ore price have contributed to the recent price hikes of steel products, said the NDRC.


China's fixed assets investment in urban regions rose by 26.6 percent year-on-year to 5.67 trillion yuan (747 billion U.S. dollars) in the first seven months this year. Investment in real estate sector reached 1.21 trillion yuan, up 28.9 percent.


While the supply of steels dropped by 5.3 percent in July over the previous month due to suspension of production in some areas out of concerns of energy saving and production safety.


The price of iron ore produced in north China's Hebei Province went up by 80 percent to 1,097 yuan (144.3 U.S. dollars) per ton compared with last year.


The economic planner also pointed to high flying international steel prices, rumors about future price hikes and illegal operations of some producers and sellers.


Factories could resume production with easing power shortages in autumn, which would increase the supply, said the planner. But the commission still called for intensified measures to reign in fixed assets investment, stricter control over steel export and closer watch over the market.


China became the world's No. 1 steel exporter in 2006, triggering frequent disputes with its trade partners in the U.S. and the EU.


(Xinhua News Agency September 7, 2007)


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