NEW YORK, Mar. 17 -- Crude prices on Wednesday rebounded from a three-week low after a fluctuating trading day, as concerns about unrest in the Middle East lifted the prices, although worries about Japan's nuclear crisis still pressured the markets.
Crude gained as escalating violence in Bahrain fueled concerns the turmoil could spread to Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter. Bahrain produces nearly 0.5 million barrels of crude oil a day, while Saudi Arabia is the largest crude producer and exporter in the world.
Iran, another important oil producer in this region, declared its displeasure on Saudi Arabia's troop intervention in Bahrain, which increased uncertainty in the oil-rich region.
Later, the crude oil extended its gains after the U.S. Energy Information Administration said that U.S. crude oil inventories rose less than expected in the week ended March 11, up 1.7 million barrels after rising by 2.5 million in the preceding week.
But Japan's nuclear crisis kept deepening and still pressured the markets.
Light, sweet crude for April delivery gained 80 cents to settle at 97.98 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In London, Brent crude for April delivery rose 2.10 dollars to settle at 110.62 dollars a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.