Oil prices rose to near $72 a barrel on Friday amid concerns that massive U.S. fiscal spending will spark inflation down the road, making oil and other commodities attractive investment alternatives. Benchmark crude for July delivery rose 61 cents to $71.98 a barrel by midday in Europe in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Thursday, it rose 34 cents to settle at $71.37. After hitting an eight-month high of $73.23 on June 11, oil has lingered above $70 a barrel this week on investor optimism that the global economy is stabilizing from a severe slowdown. Traders are also buying crude and other commodities as protection against possible inflation and a weaker dollar.