Michelin has no firm plans to increase prices for replacement tyres in Europe despite such moves in North America and Japan, a spokeswoman for the group told Reuters on Wednesday.

She reportedly declined to comment whether this was due to more intense competition in Europe, where Japan's Bridgestone is stepping up pressure as it aims to dislodge Michelin from its position as the world-leading tyre group.

"We are sticking to our philosophy that we aim to recoup increases in raw materials in our sales prices," the spokeswoman told the news agency, adding that there were no definite plans for such rises in Europe at the moment and that the last increases came in the first quarter of 2005.

Reuters noted that, last year, the European tyre market was shielded to some extent from the impact of the rise in raw materials such as rubber and steel because these prices are quoted in dollars and the US currency was weakening against the euro.

But the dollar has been clawing back ground recently, with the euro falling 11% in the past year and about 5% in the past three months, while the yen gained 7.5% in the past quarter and 2.6% over the year, the report added.

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