Major stock markets in the Gulf were mixed in early trade on Thursday after the U.S. Federal Reserve signalled that interest rates could stay higher for longer.

The U.S. central bank held interest rates steady on Wednesday and projected an increase by year-end, saying monetary policy is likely to be significantly tighter through 2024 than previously thought.

The six-member Gulf Cooperation Council's monetary policy is usually guided by the Fed's decision as most regional currencies are pegged to the U.S. dollar.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index dropped 0.6%, on course to extend losses from the previous session, hit by a 1.2% fall in Saudi National Bank, the country's biggest lender.

Among other losers, oil giant Saudi Aramco retreated 0.6%.

Separately, Saudi oil and gas driller ADES Holding said on Wednesday it has set the final price for its initial public offering (IPO), implying a valuation of 15.242 billion riyals ($4.06 billion) for the Saudi sovereign wealth fund-backed firm.

Dubai's main share index gained 0.5%, led by a 4.5% rise in blue-chip developer Emaar Properties and a 0.9% increase in Sharia-compliant lender Dubai Islamic Bank .

In Abu Dhabi, the index eased 0.1%

Oil prices - a key catalyst for the Gulf's financial markets - fell in early Asian trade after posting the largest fall in a month in the previous session, as U.S. rate hike expectations offset the impact of drawdowns in U.S. crude stockpiles.

The Qatari benchmark gained 0.1%, with petrochemical maker Industries Qatar adding 0.5%.

($1 = 3.7509 riyals)

(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Sonia Cheema)