Stock markets in the Gulf were up in early trade on Tuesday, as the expectation for higher oil demand in China and the U.S. amid rising geopolitical tensions in the Middle East boosted crude prices.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark stock index advanced 0.2%, supported by gains in finance, healthcare, materials and energy sectors with Rajhi Bank, the world's largest Islamic lender, gaining 0.7% and Saudi National Bank, the kingdom's biggest lender, rising 1.1%.

Among other gainers, Saudi Basic Industries and Etihad Etisalat added 1.7% and 2.1%, respectively.

Dubai's benchmark stock index edged up 0.2%, lifted by a 1.1% rise in blue-chip developer Emaar Properties and a 0.5% gain in Dubai Islamic Bank.

The Qatari benchmark index inched up 0.1% with Qatar Islamic Bank gaining 0.5% and Qatar Navigation rising 3.5%.

However, Commercial Bank and Qatar International Islamic Bank slipped 5.1% and 1.1%, respectively.

In Abu Dhabi, the benchmark stock index was little changed with conglomerate Alpha Dhabi Holding falling 0.8% and First Abu Dhabi Bank shedding 0.6%, while Presight rose 4.3% and ADNOC Drilling gained 0.8%.

Oil prices - a catalyst for the Gulf's financial markets- climbed 1% with Brent trading at $88.3 a barrel by 0725 GMT.

Manufacturing activity in China and the U.S., the world's biggest oil consuming nations, expanded in March, offering a more optimistic demand outlook while growing concerns of a widening conflict in the Middle East could affect supply from the region.

(Reporting by Md Manzer Hussain; Editing by Mrigank Dhaniwala)