Most major stock markets in the Gulf opened slightly higher on Monday, shrugging off a small retreat in oil prices, although Abu Dhabi was poised to extend its losing streak.

Oil prices - a key catalyst for Gulf financial markets - drifted lower in early trade on Monday, but held on to most of last week's gains on the prospect of an economic recovery in top oil importer China this year.

Brent crude futures were down by 46 cents, or 0.5%, to $87.17 at 0349 GMT.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark stock index edged up 0.1%, boosted by its energy and healthcare stocks, with state oil giant and index heavyweight Saudi Aramco gaining 0.6% and Sulaiman Al-Habib Medical Services Group rising 0.8%.

Among other stocks, East Pipes Integrated Company For Industry surged more than 9% after it signed two separate contracts worth 569 million riyals ($151.5 million) on Sunday.

Dubai's main share index gained 0.1%, supported by a 1.4% jump in Emirates low-cost airline Air Arabia and a 1.3% lift in Emirates Central Cooling System Corp. .

The benchmark stock index in Qatar rose 0.3%, led by lenders. Qatar National Bank, the Gulf's largest lender by assets, and Qatar International Islamic Bank climbed 2.1% and 1.8%, respectively.

However, Abu Dhabi's benchmark index extended losses to a fourth straight session, opening 0.2% lower as conglomerate International Holding Co shed 0.5% and Alpha Dhabi declined 0.6%. ($1 = 3.7548 riyals) (Reporting by Shamsuddin Mohd in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza)