The Beijing municipal government has raised fuel prices by as much as 4.4 per cent as inflation eases. The capital's guidance retail petrol prices were increased by 2.5 to 2.8 per cent starting yesterday to between 7,350 yuan (HK$8,256) and 8,232 yuan per tonne, and the guidance price of standard diesel rose by 4.4 per cent to 6,955 yuan, the city's Development and Reform Commission said. Pump prices are limited to no more than 8 per cent above the guidance prices. That means petrol at the pump could be priced at between 5.96 yuan and 7.38 yuan a litre, depending on the octane rating. Standard diesel can cost up to 6.5 yuan a litre. The commission said the increases were intended to compensate refiners for the higher costs in producing cleaner fuel to meet National IV vehicle emission standards, implemented at the start of this year to cut pollution ahead of the Olympics. The increases were delayed in the face of inflation. However, consumer price inflation on the mainland eased to a 14-month low of 4.9 per cent in August, down from the 12-year high of 8.7 per cent in February. Lower inflation and huge refining losses had already pushed Beijing to raise fuel prices by about 17 per cent in June. A 40 per cent drop in the price of crude oil from its peak in July of US$147 a barrel to just under US$90 meant the refining operations of state oil firms PetroChina and Sinopec had become profitable again. Officials in Shanghai had said they planned to launch the National IV standards by the end of next year, ahead of the city's 2010 World Expo.