Oil spikes as Iran warships near Suez Canal

chart_ws_commodity_energy_oil.top.pngClick the chart for more commodities prices By Ken Sweet, contributing writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Oil prices spiked Wednesday following reports that Iran was moving warships through the Suez Canal on their way to Syria.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman called the move "a provocation," saying it was "something which has not happened in many years."

Crude oil for delivery in March rose as much as 1.2% to $85.95 a barrel, following the news. Brent crude, which is traded primarily overseas in Europe, rose as much as 2.1% to $103.31 a barrel.

Traders urged caution, saying the reports were still a bit vague.

"The reports are sketchy at the moment, but the news of Iranian warships in the Suez did rally the market a bit," said Andrew Lebow, a commodities broker with MF Global. "The market is looking for more information but certainly we're seeing some short covering on the reports."

The Suez Canal, located between Asia and Africa, is a key passageway for international trade. Millions of barrels of oil move through it every day on the way to both Europe and North America. Oil prices spiked a few weeks ago on concerns that the instability in Egypt might cause the Suez Canal to be shut down.

The potential move by Iran -- and subsequent reaction by Israel -- are the latest in several potentially destabilizing elements occurring in the Middle East.

Protests have escalated in the oil-rich country of Bahrain and now have broken out in Libya. To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed3.92%3.97%
15 yr fixed3.00%3.08%
5/1 ARM3.48%3.44%
30 yr refi3.99%4.02%
15 yr refi3.10%3.16%
Rate data provided
by Bankrate.com
View rates in your area
 
Find personalized rates:
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 18,237.55 104.85 0.58%
Nasdaq 4,988.96 25.43 0.51%
S&P 500 2,111.01 6.51 0.31%
Treasuries 2.07 0.07 3.40%
Data as of 2:37pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 16.01 0.20 1.27%
Apple Inc 128.66 0.20 0.16%
Cisco Systems Inc 30.16 0.65 2.20%
General Electric Co 26.00 0.02 0.06%
Microsoft Corp 43.73 -0.12 -0.27%
Data as of 2:22pm ET

Sections

Guinness owner says inclusion of an LGBT group in this year's parade is reason to resume its sponsorship, though some gay rights groups are still protesting the parade's policies. More

Remember Pets.com? The Nasdaq is roaring back towards its all-time high. Here are some of the biggest dot-com busts from the last time the Nasdaq topped 5,000. More

Michael Jordan is among the newest names on Forbes' annual list of the world's richest people. The basketball star made his fortune through endorsement deals and his ownership of the Charlotte Hornets NBA team. More