Most major Gulf equities closed higher on Wednesday, tracking global peers and oil prices higher on optimism over China demand recovery, while market focus also turned to U.S. Federal Reserve chief Jerome Powell's speech due later in the day.

Most Gulf Cooperation Council countries, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, have their currencies pegged to the U.S. dollar and follow the Fed's policy moves closely, exposing the region to a direct impact from monetary tightening in the world's largest economy.

Powell's speech will be closely watched for signs of a slowdown in the pace of interest rate hikes by the central bank as well as to assess the general health of the U.S. economy.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index rose 1.5%, led by a 5.1% jump in luxury real estate developer Retal Urban Development Co and a 3.5% increase in Alinma Bank.

Among other stocks, ACWA Power gained 4.3% after the private utility said it has signed agreements to develop the largest solar power plant in the Middle East.

The Qatari index gained 1.1%, boosted by a 4.2% leap in Qatar Islamic Bank. The Qatari bourse extended its rebound after a long period of slump due to the uptrend in natural gas prices despite the volatility, said Abdelhadi Laabi, chief marketing officer, Emporium Capital. "The market is also benefiting from the natural gas partnerships signed by the government."

Germany is set to receive new flows of Qatari liquefied natural gas (LNG) from 2026 after QatarEnergy and ConocoPhillips on Tuesday signed two sales and purchase agreements for its export, covering at least 15 years.

In Abu Dhabi, the index advanced 1.5% and snapped three sessions of losses, supported by a 1.7% rise in the country's biggest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank.

Dubai's main share index gained 0.6%, with blue-chip developer Emaar Properties rising 2.2% and top lender Emirates NBD finishing 2.7% higher. Meanwhile, schools operator Taaleem Holdings, which plunged 15% in its debut, bounced back to close 5.1% higher.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index closed 0.6% higher, extending gains from the previous session, with E-Finance For Digital And Financial Investments rising 4.1% while EFG Hermes Holdings surged 5.8%.

Egyptian stock markets continued to see strong trading volumes as local investors maintained their buying trend.

Foreign investors, however, were on a selling spree, Laabi said.

  • SAUDI ARABIA was up 1.4%to 10,897 points
  • ABU DHABI rose 1.5% to 10,552 points
  • DUBAI was up 0.6% to 3,324 points
  • QATAR gained 1.1% to 11,926 points
  • EGYPT rose 0.6% to 13,259 points
  • BAHRAIN Traded flat at 1,865 points
  • OMAN was flat at 4,614 points
  • KUWAIT climbed 0.8% to 8,492 points

(Reporting by Shamsuddin Mohd in Bengaluru; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)