Most stock markets in the Gulf ended higher on Wednesday, in line with oil prices and world stocks after U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell sounded less bullish on rates than expected in testimony to Congress.
Powell told a congressional hearing on his confirmation for a second term at the helm of the central bank that the economy could weather the COVID-19 surge and was ready for tighter monetary policy.
Saudi Arabia's benchmark index advanced 1%, reaching its highest since mid-2006, boosted by a 0.5% rise in Al Rajhi Bank, while Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Ma'aden) leapt 2.7%.
Ma'aden is aiming for carbon neutrality by 2050, said Yasir al-Rumayyan, governor of Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund.
Elsewhere, Saudi Aramco concluded 1% higher, after Poland's largest refiner PKN Orlen said it will sell some of Lotos's assets to companies including Aramco.
Separately, Saudi Arabia will build 14,000 km (8,700 miles) of railway across country and is also preparing a new investment law to address the needs of investors, its investment minister Khalid al-Falih said on Wednesday.
In Abu Dhabi, the index added 0.5%, ending seven sessions of losses, with telecoms firm Etisalat.
Dubai's main share index reversed early losses to close flat.
Crude prices, a key catalyst for the Gulf's financial markets, hit two-month highs on tight supply and easing concerns about the potential hit to demand from the Omicron coronavirus variant.
The Qatari benchmark gained 0.9%, buoyed by a 2.5% rise in the Gulf's biggest lender Qatar National Bank after it reported a 10% rise in annual net profit driven by loan growth.
Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index closed 0.5% higher, with its top lender Commercial International Bank rising 1.5%.
(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Hugh Lawson) ((AteeqUr.Shariff@thomsonreuters.com; +918061822788;))