Most major Gulf stock markets closed higher on Thursday, in line with global peers and firmer oil prices, amid improving investor sentiment underpinned by hopes the banking sector crisis is over.

Oil prices, a key catalyst for gulf's financial markets, rose on Thursday as a surprise drop in U.S. crude stockpiles and a halt in exports from Iraq's Kurdistan region offset a smaller-than-expected cut to Russian supplies. Brent crude futures were up 49 cents, or 0.63%, to $78.77 a barrel at 1145 GMT. Separately, in an effort to move to next generation leadership, UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan has appointed his eldest son Sheikh Khaled as crown prince of Abu Dhabi and named his brothers to top roles, state media said on Wednesday.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark stock index rose 0.8%, led by financials and healthcare stocks, with Al Rajhi Bank , Saudi Arabia's second-largest lender by assets, and the Kingdom's largest lender by assets Saudi National Bank gaining 1.7% and 2.2%, respectively, while Dr Sulaiman Al-Habib Medical Services was up 2.4%. The index logged a weekly gain of 1.4%, which led to a solid monthly gain of 4.8%.

Dubai's main share index advanced 0.7%, gaining for a third consecutive session, boosted by solid gains in real estate and utilities stocks. The blue-chip developer Emaar Properties jumped 2.3%, and Emirates Central Cooling Systems Corporation ended 1.2% higher.

In Abu Dhabi, the benchmark index added 0.2%, after closing flat on Wednesday, supported by a 0.8% gain in First Abu Dhabi Bank, the UAE's largest lender, and a 4.3% hike in Alpha Dhabi Holding. ADNOC Gas was up 1% after reporting a 32% increase in its 2022 core earnings on a pro forma basis. The benchmark stock index in Qatar closed almost flat, as financial and telecoms stocks moved sideways, with sharia-compliant lender Masraf Al Rayan increasing nearly 3%, while telecoms operator Ooredoo fell 2.9%. The benchmark registered a weekly gain of 2.1% but fell 3.4% on monthly basis.

Qatari stock market could see fewer gains as natural gas prices remain under pressure, said Daniel Takieddine, CEO MENA at BDSwiss.

Elsewhere, Qatar's state-owned energy firm QatarEnergy on Wednesday signed a deal to acquire stakes in two Canadian offshore explorations block from ExxonMobil.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index, closed flat, with Commercial International Bank (CIB), Egypt's biggest private bank, climbing 2.2%, while electronic payments provider Fawry declining 2.6%. The Index recorded an impressive weekly rise of 5.1% but fell 3.4% on monthly basis.

  • SAUDI ARABIA rose 0.8% to 10,590
  • ABU DHABI was up 0.2% to 9,478
  • DUBAI added 0.7% to 3,426
  • QATAR was flat at 10,213
  • EGYPT flat at 16,419
  • BAHRAIN eased 0.4% to 1,887
  • OMAN edged up 0.2% 4,863
  • KUWAIT inched up 0.5% to 7,822

(Reporting by Shamsuddin Mohd in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri)