Oil prices spiked almost 2% shortly before noon Friday, March 16, with no real news catalyst presenting itself to explain the jump. 

West Texas Intermediate crude oil contracts leaped from $61.20 at 11:10 a.m. to $62.36 by 11:45 a.m. Friday. The commodity traded at about $6.28 around 3 p.m., setting itself up for a second weekly gain. 

WTI crude futures Friday, March 16. Source: Bloomberg
WTI crude futures Friday, March 16. Source: Bloomberg

The last-minute momentum comes amid a choppy week for oil. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported a slightly bearish crude inventory report Wednesday, as stockpiles rose by more than 5 million barrels last week, vastly ahead of Wall Street's expectations of 1.5 million barrels. 

U.S. crude stocks ended the week at 430.9 million barrels, 18.4% below year-ago levels, but 8.5% higher than the trailing five-year average, according to Seaport Global Securities analysts.

Meanwhile, a report from the Paris-based International Energy Agency indicated a mild uptick in demand growth. The agency said demand for crude will grow by 90,000 barrels per day to 1.8 million barrels per day in 2018. 

Lower commodity prices and accelerating economic growth worldwide underpin what is a fundamentally constructive picture, According to the IEA, but potential risks for commodities include the possibility of a global trade war.

One potential factor that could tip prices even higher is continuing political and economic plight in Venezuela. Seaport analysts suspect the unrest could lead to production capacity falling by 200,000 barrels per day by year-end. 

Still, the U.S. continued to boost production at a rapid pace, bringing in 135,000 barrels of crude during February and appearing poised to grow 1.3 million barrels per day this year, accounting for greater than 80% of projected non-OPEC growth. 

Nevertheless, supply continues to slide back to normalized levels at just 53 million barrels above the five-year average, versus 70 million barrels above that mark in December. 

WTI crude futures over the past 12 months. Source: Bloomberg.
WTI crude futures over the past 12 months. Source: Bloomberg.