Major stock markets in the Gulf were subdued in early trade on Thursday on volatile oil prices, while the Qatari benchmark was on course to extend losses for a sixth session.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index eased 0.1%, dragged down by a 0.2% fall in oil behemoth Saudi Aramco.

Oil - a major catalyst for the region's financial markets - was little changed as investors remained cautious ahead of expected production cuts by the OPEC+ group and as weaker-than-expected Chinese factory data underscored slowing growth in the world's second largest economy.

Oil prices will face an uphill struggle in 2024 as global growth risks, including China's patchy economic recovery, restrain demand, a Reuters poll showed on Wednesday, while markets expect that OPEC+ may extend production cuts.

Among individual stocks, auto rental firm Lumi advanced 1.7%, following a purchase order from Royal Commission for Alula to provide vehicle rental services for 41.8 million riyals ($11.14 million).

Separately, Saudi Arabian media giant MBC Group is seeking to raise as much as $222 million from the sale of a 10% stake through an initial public offering after the company disclosed an indicative price range on Thursday.

Dubai's main share index edged 0.1% higher, helped by a 1.4% rise in blue-chip developer Emaar Properties . Meanwhile, U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday held a call with President Mohamed bin Zayed of the United Arab Emirates and discussed the war in the Middle East and an upcoming climate summit, the White House said in a statement.

In Abu Dhabi, the index lost 0.1%.

The Qatari benchmark was down 0.2%, with the Gulf's biggest lender, Qatar National Bank, losing 0.3%. ($1 = 3.7514 riyals) (Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Sonia Cheema)