As crude oil prices surged to record highs this week, the top economic planning agency said the central government would adjust domestic prices for oil products in line with international price fluctuations. While not ruling out further adjustments in the coming months, Cao Yushu , deputy secretary-general of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), said raising or lowering product prices would be based on two main considerations. 'In deciding the extent of adjustment, we need to consider manufacturers' [financial] strength, that they are ensured profits,' he said. 'At the same time, [we need to] consider consumers' interests.' He said great caution was needed because any increase in prices had a direct impact on people's livelihoods, especially those on relatively low pay such as taxi drivers and farmers. Crude prices have gained nearly 40 per cent since the beginning of the year. In response, the NDRC this week allowed state-owned refiners to raise wholesale petrol, diesel and jet fuel prices by between 4.3 and 5.2 per cent to help boost margins and dampen incentives to export fuels. This week's increases came on the heels of a similar adjustment to raise wholesale diesel prices by 4.5 per cent last month. It was the seventh NDRC-authorised increase for oil products since March last year, about a month before Beijing introduced macroeconomic measures to rein in overheating. Still, authorised price increases for fuels have consistently lagged behind crude prices over the past two years because Beijing fears stoking inflation. Mr Cao said the pressure of such inflationary forces was prevalent. Inflation in the first quarter of this year stood at less than 3 per cent. Throughout last year, Mr Cao said, the commission had raised prices as crude soared. But they were barely close to matching the increases in crude prices. 'It's impossible for us to increase prices to match 100 per cent the price increase for crude oil,' he conceded, adding that he did not expect crude to rise substantially in the near future. 'But we will monitor the trend closely.' Nevertheless, Mr Cao said that as a result of the limits on increases, thinning margin profits had forced a proportion of domestic refiners into the red.