Oil prices rose in early Asian trade on Thursday, as worries about rising tensions in the Middle East overshadowed worries about disruption to shipping, as some international shipping companies announced they would return to the Red Sea route.
Brent crude futures were up 20 cents, or 0.3 percent, at $79.85 a barrel by 0133 GMT, while US West Texas Intermediate crude futures were up 24 cents, or 0.3 percent, at $74.35 a barrel.
Prices fell about two percent on Wednesday as major shipping companies began to return to the Red Sea.
“Concerns about navigation in the Red Sea have eased, but tensions in the Middle East, particularly concerns about Iran's involvement, could make further selling difficult,” said Hiroyuki Kikugawa, head of NS Trading, a unit of Nissan Securities.
Danish shipping company Maersk announced that it has set dates for dozens of container ships through the Suez Canal and the Red Sea in the coming weeks. Yemen's Houthi group allied with Iran.
The market showed little reaction to the rise in US crude oil inventories last week.
U.S. oil inventories rose by 1.84 million barrels in the week ended Dec. 22, according to market sources citing data from the American Petroleum Institute on Wednesday.
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