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.
|Overnight Avg Rate||Latest||Change||Last Week|
|30 yr fixed||3.64%||3.64%|
|15 yr fixed||2.76%||2.76%|
|30 yr refi||3.66%||3.69%|
|15 yr refi||2.79%||2.81%|
Today's featured rates:
Coke debuted limited edition "proud to be an American" cans in collaboration with the USO. More
The FBI has opened a national security investigation into the hacking of Bangladesh's central bank amid signs that the hack might have come from North Korea. More
In 1998, Ntsiki Biyela won a scholarship to study wine making. Now she's about to launch her own brand. More
The gender pay gap in the labor market is pretty well documented. But the gender gap also exists in the housing market. More