Oil rises further on Mideast tensions, stock markets steady

The price of oil continued to rise Thursday and stocks edged up cautiously amid concerns about the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and the potential for more instability in the energy-rich Middle East.

KEEPING SCORE: France's CAC 40 added nearly 0.1 percent to 5,535. Germany's DAX rose 0.4 percent to 12,993. Britain's FTSE 100 was flat at 7,662. U.S. shares were set to drift higher with Dow futures rising 0.1 percent and S&P 500 futures up 0.2 percent.

ENERGY: Oil rose on the news that Israel launched military strikes against Iranian targets in Syria, raising tensions further in the region. Benchmark U.S. crude oil added 45 cents to $71.59 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It climbed $2.08, or 3 percent, to $71.14 per barrel on Wednesday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 26 cents to $77.47 per barrel.

ASIA'S DAY: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 rose 0.4 percent to close at 22,497.18. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.2 percent to 6,118.70 while South Korea's Kospi added 0.8 percent to 2,464.16. Hong Kong's Hang Seng was up nearly 1.0 percent to 30,809.22 and the Shanghai Composite gained 0.5 percent to 3,174.41. Shares were higher in most other markets apart from Singapore.

UK ECONOMY: The pound fell after the Bank of England held off raising interest rates due to weaker economic growth so far this year. The currency lost its daily gains and was down 0.1 percent at $1.3529. Bank of England Governor Mark Carney blamed one-off factors like bad weather for the weaker growth and said underlying health of the British economy was good. But investors are reining in their expectations for another hike, with analysts predicting there could be one only later this year.

CURRENCIES: The dollar was flat at 109.64 yen from 109.65 on Wednesday. The euro edged up to $1.1880 from $1.1877.