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updated: 9/17/2012 7:23 AM

Oil hangs near $99 a barrel in Asia

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Associated Press

BANGKOK -- Oil traded near $99 a barrel Monday in Asia, largely holding on to gains after the Federal Reserve last week announced new steps to boost the U.S. economy.

Benchmark crude for October delivery was down 20 cents at $98.80 a barrel at midafternoon Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract on Friday traded above $100 for the first time since May before closing up 69 cents at $99 in New York.

Brent crude was down 20 cents at $116.48 in London.

The dollar remained near a four-month low versus the euro as investors bet that the Fed's plan to keep interest rates low and spend billions buying securities would keep downward pressure on the U.S. currency. Commodities such as oil are traded in dollars and become cheaper for investors holding other currencies when the dollar weakens.

Anti-American unrest in the oil-rich Middle East, which was sparked by a film that ridicules the Prophet Muhammad, also provided a floor for energy prices.

The U.S. Ambassador to Libya was killed during an attack on the consulate in Benghazi last week; protesters have also stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tunis and held violent demonstrations outside posts in Egypt and Sudan. The U.S. has responded by deploying additional military forces to increase security in certain hotspots.

In other energy futures trading, wholesale gasoline was down 0.2 cent at $2.93 a gallon while heating oil was up 0.1 cent at $3.24 a gallon. Natural gas added 1.8 cents to $2.96 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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