THE impasse in the newspaper war was broken yesterday when key player Oriental Daily News announced a price rise from $2 to $3. The move opens the way for two other newspapers remaining at the lower price, Hong Kong Daily News and Sing Pao, to rise, four months after the crippling battle for circulation erupted. Claiming a shortage of coins in circulation and problems for hawkers handling change, the mass-market Oriental Daily News, owned by the Oriental Press Group, said it would rise $1 and its magazine stablemate, Eastweek, would increase from $8 to $10. But the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, which is in charge of the coin supply, scoffed at the reasoning. 'We're not aware of any shortage of coins,' a spokesman said. There were 652 million $1 coins and 435 million $2 coins circulating at the end of February, he said. The main reason behind the price increase would have been lost sales revenue, said Carol Leung Suk-fong, associate media director at advertising agency Leo Burnett. Management at the Hong Kong Daily News were understood to be considering an increase, which would be the second since it dropped to $1. Sing Pao had no immediate plans last night to adjust its price. Ma Ching-kwan's Oriental Press Group plunged the Chinese-language newspaper market into chaos in early December when it broke a uniform price of $5 by slashing to $2. A member of the Newspaper Society committee, which has been holding talks to end the discounting, said it would still be a few more months before prices rose to $4 or $5. Committee member Keith Kam Woon-ting said the move was positive for those newspapers which had already cut their prices. Apple Daily, whose appearance last June changed the face of the market, said last night it would not raise its price. It is committed to a $4 charge until the change in sovereignty next year, but it would consider a rise for Next magazine from $12 to $15 today.