Major stock markets in the Gulf were mixed in early trade on Thursday ahead of crucial U.S. inflation data that could provide fresh clues on when the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates.

The Fed's preferred inflation gauge, the personal consumer expenditures (PCE) price index, is due later in the day and investors were cautious, after dialling back bets for the first rate cut to June. At the start of the year, wagers were on the Fed cutting rates in March.

Most Gulf currencies are pegged to the dollar and any monetary policy change in the United States is usually followed by Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index edged 0.1% higher, helped by a nearly 30% surge in Avalon Pharma, rising for a third consecutive session after listing.

During the first three days of trade, the Saudi Exchange allows 30% fluctuation limits.

In Abu Dhabi, the index eased 0.1%.

Oil prices - a catalyst for the Gulf's financial markets - extended declines from the previous session after a larger-than-expected build in U.S. crude stockpiles stoked worries about slow demand, while signs that U.S. interest rates could remain elevated added to pressure.

Dubai's main share index added 0.1%, with Mashreqbank rising 4%.

The Qatari benchmark lost 0.1%, hit by a 0.5% fall in petrochemical maker Industries Qatar.

(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Janane Venkatraman)