U.S. crude oil futures hovered at around $76 a barrel on Monday as China's bigger-than-expected trade surplus in June eased worries about a slowdown for the global economic recovery and oil demand.

Chinese exports in June rose 43.9 percent from a year earlier, while crude imports in the world's second-largest energy user rose by a quarter to hit a record high above 22 million tonnes.

Crude for August delivery was trading down 13 cents at $75.96 a barrel by 0445 GMT, after closing last week with a gain of more than 5 percent -- its biggest jump since the week to May 28.

Crude hit an intraday high of $76.48 on Friday, the highest since June 30.

Because oil closed higher than expected last week, we are seeing some short-covering in Asia, said Ken Hasegawa, a commodity derivatives sales manager at broker Newedge in Tokyo.

Amid a lack of major news in particular, I have to attribute the rise to China data.

U.S. crude remains below a 19-month peak above $87 reached in early May, having rebounded sharply from a trough below $65 on May 20.

London Brent crude was trading 17 cents lower at $75.25 a barrel.

Stock markets in Asia edged higher, after the best week in a year for U.S. equities. The driver this week will be quarterly earnings, which kick off on Monday with the results of aluminum producer Alcoa.

U.S. June retail sales data due on Wednesday will be pivotal to gauge the country's economic recovery, Stephen Schork, president of energy advisory firm the Schork Group, said in a note.

If we are to see serious gains from the bulls this week, we will need to see strength in equities, strong retail sales figures and a weaker dollar would not hurt, he said.

The yen eased on Monday after election results showed political uncertainty lay ahead for Japan after a poor showing for the ruling party in upper house elections.

Weather forecasters reported no new signs of foul weather brewing that could hit the Gulf of Mexico, after Tropical Depression No.2 hit Mexico's coast near the border with Texas on Thursday, missing energy production platforms.

(Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori and Florence Tan; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)