Stock markets in the Gulf advanced in early trade on Thursday, as oil prices jumped amid tight global supplies and a drop in crude stocks in the United States.

Oil prices - a catalyst for Gulf's financial markets - scaled one-year highs on Thursday, with a big drop in U.S. crude stocks stoking concern that fuel demand is outstripping production.

Brent crude was up 0.88% to $97.45 a barrel at 0750 GMT.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark stock index was up 0.5%, helped by gains in almost all sectors, with Riyad Bank rising 1.6% and Saudi Aramco adding 0.7%.

China's privately controlled Jiangsu Eastern Shenghong Co Ltd said on Wednesday it had struck a preliminary deal with Saudi Aramco for the Middle Eastern oil major to become a minority stakeholder in its refining and petrochemical unit.

Dubai's benchmark stock index rose 0.2% in early trade, with Emaar Properties climbing 3.4% and Emaar Development surging 2.5%.

The emirate's largest lender Emirates NBD gained 0.6%.

In Abu Dhabi, the benchmark stock index advanced 0.2%, aided by a 2% surge in Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank and a 1.2% gain in Aldar Properties.

The UAE's largest lender, First Abu Dhabi Bank, added 0.4%.

In Qatar, the benchmark index rose 0.4%, with almost all sectors in the green.

Industries Qatar and Ooredoo climbed 1.1% and 1.6% respectively.

Stock markets in Oman, Kuwait and Egypt are closed for a public holiday.

(Reporting by Md Manzer Hussain Editing by Mark Potter)