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Highlights

Crude oil futures were higher during mid-morning trade in Asia Friday, as robust US economic data released Thursday night gave some respite to markets that were trading lower on fears of a looming global recession.

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At 10:45 am in Singapore (0245 GMT), ICE Brent October futures were up 43 cents/b (0.74%) from Thursday's settle at $58.66/b, while the front-month NYMEX September light sweet crude futures contract was 59 cents/b (1.08%) higher at $55.06/b.

US retail sales rose 0.7% in July compared to a revised 0.3% increase in June, according to US Commerce Department data that was released a day after a key part of the US Treasury yield curve inverted for the first time since June 2007, prompting a sell-off in equities and crude.

"Strong US July retail sales and a good earnings report from a major US retailer gave a reassuring view of US consumers," UOB Bank analysts said in a note.

This report gave some reassurance to markets which were spooked by concerns over a bearish outlook for global demand and growth.

Market participants would be closely watching geopolitical developments in the Middle East and trade relations between the US and China for further price direction, analysts said.

The Gibraltar government has released the Iranian supertanker Grace 1, it said Thursday, after receiving assurances from Iran that the tanker would not deliver crude to Syria.

Gibraltar Chief Minister Fabian Picardo confirmed the release after a hearing of the British territory's Supreme Court. The tanker had been held for seven weeks on suspicion of taking crude to Syria.

The US has, however, made a legal bid to seize the VLCC, further escalating US-Iran tensions.

"Separately, the United States Department of Justice has requested that a new legal procedure for the detention of the vessel should be commenced," Picardo said.

However, it remains unclear where the US could carry out the arrest if the Grace 1 departs from European waters.

Elsewhere, China indicated that it would take retaliatory measures in response to a new round of US tariffs slated to take effect later this year.

The tariffs violate the agreement US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping made at their June meeting in Osaka, and China will have to take countermeasures as a result, China's Ministry of Finance said in a statement Thursday.

Trump on Wednesday, however, suggested a possible meeting with the Chinese president in the wake of ongoing protests in Hong Kong and to further discuss trade negotiations.

"President Trump later said that his call with President Xi will soon be fueling hopes of progress of trade talks," OCBC Bank analysts said in a note.

As of 0245 GMT, the US Dollar Index was up 0.08% at 98.115.

--Avantika Ramesh, avantika.ramesh@spglobal.com

--Edited by Geetha Narayanasamy, geetha.narayanasamy@spglobal.com