Dubai's stock market rose for the eighth straight session on Monday and most major Gulf markets gained, as financial shares lifted the exchanges.
The Dubai index rose 0.6 percent, as Dubai Islamic Bank added 1.6 percent and its largest listed-developer Emaar Properties closed 1.4 percent higher.
On Sunday, a media report said that Dubai Islamic Bank was in talks to buy Dubai-based Noor Bank. The company said it does not comment on market speculation and rumours.
Dubai Investments increased 2.8 percent, to its highest since November. The company signed an $86 million contract with ABB Industries to commission a new Dubai Electricity and Water Authority substation.
The Abu Dhabi index was up 0.5 percent, led by a 2.5 percent gain in Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, and a 2.7 rise in Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB).
Last week, ADIB and First Abu Dhabi Bank denied that they were in merger talks after a news report said the emirate was considering combining them. First Abu Dhabi Bank traded flat.
ADNOC Distribution climbed 4.1 percent, to its highest level since its listing on Dec. 13, 2017.
The company's shareholders approved an increase in its dividend policy and a plan to buy back 62.5 million shares of its free float. HSBC raised its target price on ADNOC to 3.2 dirhams ($0.87) from 2.6 dirhams, upgrading the stock to 'buy' from 'hold'.
Saudi Arabia's index closed 0.3 percent higher with National Commercial Bank 1180.SE , the country's largest lender by assets, gaining 2.3 percent. National Industrialization Company was up 3.4 percent to 19.90 riyals ($5.31), its highest level in six months.
HSBC raised target price on the latter to 22 riyals from 19 riyals with a 'buy' rating.
Saudi Enaya Cooperative Insurance 8311.SE jumped 5.7 percent, after the insurer said its accumulated losses as of January 2019 have dropped to 15.23 percent of its capital.
The Qatari index added 0.3 percent after it slipped earlier in the session.
Qatar National Bank , the largest bank by assets in the Middle East and Africa, increased 1.2 percent ahead of its first-quarter results. The lender said that it will disclose its financial results on April 09.
The Egyptian index edged down 0.2 percent as most of its blue-chip stocks weighed on the index.
Commercial International Bank, the country's largest lender slid 0.2 percent and Global Telecom Holding declined 1.7 percent.
($1 = 3.6728 UAE dirham)
($1 = 3.7503 riyals)
(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru Editing by Keith Weir) ((AteeqUr.Shariff@thomsonreuters.com; +918067497129;))