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Plates at 43-month high

CAR plate prices surged to a 43-month high in July, despite a high number still being made available. The average price for a private car license in Shanghai rose for the seventh consecutive month to 51,174 yuan (US$7,937) this month, up 2,319 yuan from a month earlier, according to Shanghai International Commodity Auction Co yesterday. The lowest price also climbed 2,400 yuan to 50,900 yuan. Both prices were the highest since January 2008 when the current auction system was adopted. The number of bidders was 21,853, about 622 less than in June, said the monthly auction organizer. The municipal government offered 9,000 plates for auction this month, the same as last month. It was the third consecutive month with this high number available. Market observers had predicted that demand for car plates could cool down after vehicles sales slowed. However, on the secondhand car market, plate prices continued to increase, topping 52,000 yuan before the auction. Dealer Huang Dan said local car plates are in big demand as they are not affected by traffic restrictions. Shanghai has banned vehicles with out-of-town plates from the city's highways during rush hour. Also, consumers found it is getting more difficult to register vehicles in nearby cities and prices have increased. Huang said that bidders who lost out this time may try again next month, and could push prices higher still.

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