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Oil prices rise after Middle East tanker attacks

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TOKYO (Reuters) – Oil rose for a second day on Friday, extending sharp gains following attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman that stoked concerns of reduced crude flows through one of the world’s key shipping routes.

FILE PHOTO: The sun sets behind an oil pump outside Saint-Fiacre, near Paris, France.(REUTERS/Christian Hartmann/ MANILA BULLETIN)

FILE PHOTO: The sun sets behind an oil pump outside Saint-Fiacre, near Paris, France.(REUTERS/Christian Hartmann/ MANILA BULLETIN)

The attacks near Iran and the Strait of Hormuz pushed oil prices up as much as 4.5% on Thursday, putting the brakes on a slide in prices in recent weeks over concerns about global demand.

It was the second time in a month tankers have been attacked in the world’s most important zone for oil supplies, amid rising tensions between the United States and Iran. Washington quickly blamed Iran for Thursday’s attacks, but Tehran denied the allegation.

Brent crude futures were up 50 cents, or 0.8%, at $61.81 a barrel by 0313 GMT, having settled up 2.2% on Thursday.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures rose 21 cents, or 0.4%, to $52.49 a barrel. WTI also closed up 2.2% in the previous session.

“The events in the Gulf would now appear to have taken on an overt military dimension and we are waiting to see what action the US Fifth Fleet and other military resources in the region may take,” said Tom O’Sullivan, founder of energy and security consultancy Mathyos Advisory.

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