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China weighs coal market intervention as power crunch heads into winter

Options include cutting profit margins to ease strain on economic growth

A coal-fired heating complex in Harbin in northern China. The country relies on coal to meet much of its heating needs in the winter.   © Reuters

BEIJING/TOKYO -- The Chinese government has laid out tools to tamp down skyrocketing coal prices that have choked electric power supplies and hurt the broader economy.

The National Development and Reform Commission, the government's economic planning arm, announced the possibility of an intervention on Tuesday night, after meeting with major coal companies and industry associations to discuss ensuring a sufficient energy supply for the winter and spring.

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