Most Gulf stock markets ended higher on Monday with gains in National Commercial Bank and Samba Financial Group supporting the Saudi index after the lenders signed a binding merger agreement.
The benchmark index in Saudi Arabia climbed 0.4%, with National Commercial Bank (NCB) rising 2% and Samba Financial Group jumping 2.6%
NCB, the kingdom's biggest lender, entered a binding merger agreement with smaller lender Samba Financial Group to create a combined entity with 837 billion riyals ($223 billion) in assets, NCB said on Sunday.
Low oil prices and weak economic growth are driving consolidation in the banking sector across the Gulf.
Dubai's main share index rose 0.5%, led by a 1% increase in Emirates NBD Bank and a 1.1% gain in blue-chip developer Emaar Properties.
Dubai's non-oil private sector expanded for a third consecutive month in September as it continued to see a modest improvement in business conditions, a survey showed on Sunday.
The seasonally adjusted IHS Markit Dubai Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) rose to 51.5 in September from 50.9 in August.
The Abu Dhabi index added 0.9%, buoyed by a 1.4% rise in the country's largest lender, First Abu Dhabi Bank.
In Qatar, the index closed up 0.6%, as most of the stocks on the index were in positive territory including Qatar National Bank, which advanced 1.3%.
On Sunday, the Gulf's largest lender fell 1.7% when it reported a roughly 18% decline in its third-quarter profit as it booked more loan loss provisions amid global economic uncertainty.
Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index added 0.3%, with Egypt Kuwait Holding rising 2%.
(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by David Clarke) ((AteeqUr.Shariff@thomsonreuters.com; +918061822788;))