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Crude oil futures continue to rise amid geopolitical concerns

Singapore — Crude oil futures were higher during mid-morning trade in Asia Friday, continuing their upward momentum from the previous day's trading cycle bolstered by the ongoing geopolitical concerns in the Middle East.

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At 10:25 am Singapore time (0225 GMT), ICE Brent August futures rose 47 cents/b (73%) from Thursday's settle at $64.92/b, while the new front-month NYMEX August light sweet crude futures contract was up 33 cents/b (0.58%) at $57.40/b.

US President Donald Trump called the US drone being hit by an Iranian surface-to-air missile above the Strait of Hormuz, as a "mistake", but offered little insight into what, if any the US response would be.

"Iran made a very big mistake," Trump said after a meeting with his top national security advisers on Thursday. "We didn't have a man or woman in the drone. It would have made a big, big difference."

When asked by reporters on a US response, Trump said: "Let's see what happens," cautioning that he was not being pushed to war by advisers.

Iranian officials claimed the drone had crossed into its territory while the US maintained it was in international airspace.

"Tension in the Middle East ratcheted up after Iran shot down an unmanned US drone. Both sides have been arguing as to where it was shot down, with the US saying it was in international waters," ANZ analysts said in a note Friday.

The US withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal with Iran in November and re-imposed sanctions aimed at bringing Iranian oil exports to zero, allowing waivers for Iran's biggest crude and condensate buyers to expire in May.

Two oil tankers were attacked last week just outside the Strait of Hormuz, with the US, the UK and Saudi Arabia blaming Iran. A similar attack off the eastern UAE port of Fujairah occurred a month earlier. Iran, which previously threatened to shut down traffic through the Strait if US sanctions blocked its oil exports, has denied responsibility.

Related content:
Infographic: Attacks on Middle East oil tankers and infrastructure
Factbox: Risks rise in key oil chokepoint Strait of Hormuz

"This event is raising fears Iran and the US are headed towards a military confrontation that would have serious price consequences for energy. There is too much dangerous activity going on in the Strait of Hormuz, the world's most important energy waterway," Price Futures Group senior market analyst Phil Flynn said in a note.

Elsewhere, the US oil and gas rig count dropped by 13 to 1,040 week on week, S&P Global Platts Analytics said Thursday, continuing its see-sawing behavior that has characterized domestic unconventional activity since oil prices plummeted late last year. Oil-directed activity was the most hit, down 10 rigs to 832, the data showed

As of 0225 GMT, the US Dollar Index was down 0.07% at 96.08.

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

--Edited by Nurul Darni, nurul.indriani.darni@spglobal.com