China raised the domestic prices of refined oil products this week — its first in three months — in line with higher prices on the international market. The move was greeted with relief by domestic refineries who have been suffering losses because of rising crude oil costs, reported the China Daily.

The National Development Reform Commission on Wednesday raised benchmark gasoline rates by 240 yuan (US$29) a ton and diesel prices by 220 yuan (US$26.60) a ton. The price hikes represent about a 7% increase over the previous level.

China’s oil prices vary widely across provinces and regions. Oil companies are allowed to raise or drop retail prices by 8% cent from a government-set benchmark.

The China Daily reported that in Beijing, retail gasoline prices recently hit a new record high. The benchmark 90-octane gasoline rose by 0.19 yuan (2.3 US cents) to 3.42 yuan (41.4 US cents) a liter. The 0-octane diesel increased by 0.19 yuan (2.3 US cents) to 3.46 yuan (41.8 US cents) a liter.

New York oil futures last week hit a peak of US$49.40 a barrel before slipping on profit taking.

China’s oil refiners have been suffering heavy losses as they are not allowed to pass on rising costs of processing crude oil to consumers.