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Oil nears $96 after BOJ eases monetary policy

BANGKOK (AP) — Oil rose toward $96 a barrel after two days of declines as Japan's central bank joined the U.S. Federal Reserve in easing monetary policy.

The Bank of Japan announced it was moving to protect the country's fragile recovery by extending its monetary easing by increasing its asset-purchasing fund to 55 trillion yen ($700 billion) from 45 trillion yen, to counter the Japanese yen's rise. That followed moves by the U.S. Federal Reserve to stimulate growth through so-called quantitative easing.

Benchmark oil for October delivery was up 30 cents to $95.59 per barrel at late afternoon Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $1.33 to close at $95.29 on the Nymex on Tuesday.

Brent crude added 15 cents to $112.20 on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

The move by the Japanese central bank boosted stock markets in Asia. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 gained 1.2 percent to 9,232.21 — its highest finish since May 2.

Traders were also keeping their eyes on oil supplies as U.S. Gulf Coast refineries returned to production after shutting down due to Hurricane Isaac.

"We're getting back a few more refineries post (Isaac), but on the flip side a few refineries had some restart issues and a few are headed into maintenance," said Carl Larry of Oil Outlooks and Opinions in a newsletter.

In other futures trading in New York, wholesale gasoline rose 2.1 cents to $2.829 per gallon. Heating oil gained 1.2 cents to $3.139 per gallon. Natural gas fell 2 cents to $2.753 per 1,000 cubic feet.