More signs of improvement in the U.S. economy helped drive the price of oil to above $108 a barrel on Friday, its highest price since March of 2012. Oil futures  have risen more than $11 a barrel this month.

Friday morning, benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude for August delivery rose as high as $109.32 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In the afternoon, the price of oil was around $108.15.

On Thursday, the Labor Department reported a drop in claims for unemployment benefits. In addition, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia said manufacturing activity in the mid-Atlantic region grew in July at the fastest pace in more than two years.

Both those reports signaled to traders a possible increase in demand for petroleum products, thus the rise in oil futures.