Saudi Arabia's stock market ended higher on Thursday, to remain at its highest in over 15 years, amid strong oil prices, while the Qatari index registered its twelfth weekly gain in thirteen.

Investors remain optimistic in the region. Equities are buoyed by the good earnings season and the high level of energy prices, said Wael Makarem, senior market strategist at Exness.

"Additionally, the improved sanitary conditions should help the economy return to normal."

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index gained 0.3%, with Dr Sulaiman Al-Habib Medical Services Group advancing 5.2% and Al Rajhi Bank closing 0.6% higher.

Oil hit a three-year high above $86 a barrel driven by tight supply and a global energy crunch, although prices eased as some investors took profits on signs the rally is looking overstretched. O/R

Elsewhere, oil behemoth Saudi Aramco added 0.5% after HSBC raised its target price to 38.8 riyals ($10.34) from 37.5 riyals earlier, nearing a $2 trillion valuation.

Economies in the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will grow faster next year than previously thought, according to a Reuters poll of economists who warned a decline in oil and gas prices was the biggest risk to their outlook. 

All GCC economies are highly reliant on oil and gas exports and any disruption in energy prices due to geopolitical tension and a slowdown in the global economy could hurt the recovery.

Saudi Arabia, the Gulf's largest economy will see a 5.1% economic growth next year after a modest 2.3% expansion this year and a sharp 4.1% contraction last year, the poll showed.

In Qatar, the benchmark index edged 0.1% higher, supported by a 3.5% jump in Qatar Gas Transport (Nakilat), rising for a seventh session in eight.

On Sunday, Nakilat, one of the world's largest shippers of liquefied natural gas, reported a net profit of 1 billion riyals for the nine months ended Sept. 30, up from 899.5 million riyals a year ago. 

Elsewhere, developer United Development Co added 0.4%, a day after it posted a strong net profit for the first nine-months of 2021. 

** UAE, Egypt and Kuwait markets were closed for a public holiday.

($1 = 3.7507 riyals)

($1 = 3.6548 Qatar riyals)

(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber) ((; +918061822788;))