Stocks of oil companies rose yesterday after Beijing lifted domestic fuel prices by up to 10 per cent as it honoured its pledge to ensure refiners could make reasonable profits. China Petroleum & Chemical Corp (Sinopec), Asia's largest oil refiner, rose as much as 5.94 per cent and closed 3.32 per cent up at HK$5.91. PetroChina, the country's second-largest refiner, traded as much as 3.1 per cent higher at HK$8.90 before ending 0.35 per cent lower at HK$8.60 after the wider equity market retreated. Beijing lifted the maximum allowed retail diesel and petrol prices by from 8.2 per cent to almost 10 per cent yesterday to help refiners counter surging crude costs. The government introduced a new fuel pricing system in December that allows fuel prices to go up or down when the 22-day moving average of global crude prices moves more than 4 per cent. The timing and the degree of adjustments are decided by the authorities, which have raised fuel prices three times so far this year. The last increase, of about 6 per cent, was on June 1. The 22-day average spot price of the Minas, Cinta and Dubai crude oil benchmarks had gained 16.7 per cent to US$65.77 a barrel on Monday from US$56.36 on June 1. 'Relative to international oil price increases, this rise in domestic fuel prices is not particularly large,' said a Guolian Securities research report. However, Shenyin Wanguo Securities analyst Yu Chunmei said although Beijing might have needed to raise fuel prices twice last month under the new system, frequent price adjustments might result in a backlash from consumers. 'I think the timing and degree of the price increase are based on a range of factors - the pricing system only provided rough guidance,' she said. 'I suspect the latest rise took into account the fact that the busy planting season for farmers has just entered a hiatus, and hence farmers will not be badly hit.' As refiners' crude costs lag international spot prices by two months, she expected healthy refining profits in the second quarter.