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Philip Morris USA to Increase Cigarette Prices

RICHMOND, Va. -- Philip Morris USA (PM USA), a division of the largest U.S. tobacco company, Altria Group Inc., plans to raise prices on all 18 of its cigarette brands effective May 10, BusinessWeek reported.

PM USA will charge wholesalers 8 cents a pack more for Marlboro, Virginia Slims and other brands, David Sylvia, a spokesman for the company, told BusinessWeek. The company declined to provide the reasoning for the increase, which represents the first since October.

The higher prices are within "the normal range" expected this year, Thilo Wrede, an analyst for Credit Suisse in New York, wrote in a note to clients that was cited in the report.

Marlboro shipments rose 1.6 percent to 29.6 billion cigarettes last quarter, while the brand increased its U.S. market share by 0.3 percentage points to a record 42.7 percent, according to Altria. PM USA's overall cigarette market share slipped 0.7 point to 50.2 percent, the report stated.

The average price of a pack of Marlboro in convenience stores was $5.42 in the first quarter, Sylvia told BusinessWeek.

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