Major stock markets in the Gulf rose in early trade on Thursday after softer-than-expected U.S. inflation data encouraged bets of less aggressive rate hikes from the Federal Reserve.

U.S. consumer prices were unchanged in July compared with June, when they rose a monthly 1.3%. The July result was lower than expectations due to a sharp drop in the cost of petrol, causing markets to reposition on hopes that inflation was peaking.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan surged 1.4% to the highest in six weeks.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index gained 0.8%, with Al Rajhi Bank advancing 2.2%, while Saudi Arabian Mining Co jumped 5%.

The miner reported quarterly net profit of 4.03 billion riyals ($1.07 billion), up from 1.10 billion riyals a year ago.

Elsewhere, oil giant Saudi Aramco, which is scheduled to report its second-quarter earnings, was up 0.6%.

The Saudi Egyptian Investment Co (SEIC), owned by Saudi Arabia's state-owned Public Investment Fund (PIF), has bought minority stakes in four Egyptian companies for $1.3 billion, Egypt's planning ministry said on Wednesday.

In Abu Dhabi, the index edged 0.1% higher, a day after posting a record close, with the United Arab Emirates biggest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank.

The Qatari index added 0.7%, with Qatar National Bank , the Gulf's biggest lender, rising 0.5%.

Dubai's main share index eased 0.1%, hit by a 3.5% fall in Air Arabia.

The budget airline reported a higher second-quarter net profit, but saw a decrease sequentially in earnings.

($1 = 3.7585 riyals)

(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Kim Coghill)