Abu Dhabi stocks closed at an all-time high on Thursday, buoyed by a jump in First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB), while the Saudi bourse snapped a five-day winning streak.
In Abu Dhabi, the index advanced 1.2%, boosted by a 4.8% rise in the United Arab Emirates' largest lender FAB, which said on Wednesday it had hired Martin Tricaud as head of investment banking.
The appointment should give a notable boost to the bank's investment banking business, said Wael Makarem, senior market strategist at Exness: "Tricaud has a long-standing track record and diverse experience in investment banking in the Middle East from his time with HSBC."
Abu Dhabi locked in $3 billion on Wednesday with its second bond sale of the year, for which it received more than $9.75 billion in orders for two tranches, a bank document showed.
Saudi Arabia's benchmark index lost 0.3%, ending five sessions of gains, weighed down by a 2% slide in Riyad Bank and a 0.7% decline in the kingdom's biggest lender Saudi National Bank.
Brent crude slipped into negative territory, falling $1.05, or 1.56%, to $71.51 a barrel by 0123 GMT.
Oil prices were pressured by the U.S. Energy Information Administration cutting its 2021 global oil demand growth forecast on Wednesday, with little change to its 2022 estimate.
Moves in oil prices are a key catalyst for the Gulf region's financial markets.
The Qatari index added 0.2%, helped by a 0.9% gain in petrochemical firm Industries Qatar.
The Dubai index traded flat.
Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index dropped 0.7%. Most stocks were in negative territory, with top lender Commercial International Bank down 1.6%.
The Egyptian bourse fell as investors kept track of economic developments in the United States and Europe. They remain worried that tighter monetary policy would undercut international investors' appetite for risk, said Daniel Takieddine, senior market analyst at FXPrimus.
(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Pravin Char) ((AteeqUr.Shariff@thomsonreuters.com; +918061822788;))