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June 17, 2012

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Car license plate prices fall to 3-month low

SHANGHAI'S car license plate prices dropped the first time in seven months after the government eased quotas and introduced a new rule on car plate resale to curb speculation.

The average winning bid for a Shanghai car plate fell to a three-month low of 58,227 yuan (US$9,147) in June from its record high last month, down 6,140 yuan, said the Shanghai Commodity International Auction Co after yesterday's auction.

The lowest successful bid dropped 8,200 yuan to 55,800 yuan - the lowest since February. The city made 9,500 car plates available for sale this month, 200 more than May and the most this year. The number of bidders was 24,744, a 2 percent increase from last month.

Market observers said the price fall was within market expectations following the announcement of a new rule effective next month, which will extend the required holding period of a new car plate before resale to three years from the current one year.

"The rule came as a heavy blow to scalpers who would usually cash in on plates," said Xiao Yan, a second-hand car dealer.

The price of a second-hand car plate dropped to around 66,000 yuan this week before the auction, a decrease of 1,000 yuan from the same period last month.

"Speculators are no longer hoarding car plates because the risks of price fluctuation under the new rule are more than they can bear," Xiao said.

Nicknamed the most expensive metal plate in China, Shanghai's car license plate prices had increased 10,000 yuan this year amid buyers' strong demand, before yesterday's drop was announced.

Sun Jianping, director of Shanghai Transport and Port Bureau, said earlier this month that the focal point of Shanghai's private car ownership management now is to cool down overheated car plate prices and curb speculative bidding.

The traffic administration is also studying new measures to better regulate the auction, such as including second-hand car plate trading into the event and only allowing people who have bought a car to take part.

Shanghai now has more than 1.7 million private cars. The number of private cars would surpass 3.3 million if measures, such as plate auction, were not taken, said the city's traffic administration.


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