JaSaudi Arabia's stock market rose on Thursday as banks gained, and it introduced the MSCI Tadawul 30 index. Dubai was lifted by corporate earnings.
Saudi Arabia's main index rose 0.3 percent. Riyad Bank rose 1.2 percent after posting a 39 percent gain in its fourth-quarter net profit, according to Reuters calculations.
The MSCI Tadawul 30 Index (MT30) rose 0.3 percent. The index of the 30 largest securities listed on the Saudi Arabian Equity Market live on Wednesday.
Samba Financial Group and Saudi Arabian Mining Co, two of the stocks on the index, were up 0.7 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.
Separately, Saudi Arabia is set to join the emerging-market indexes of MSCI and FTSE Russell later this year. That is expected to attract $15 billion of "passive" benchmark-linked funds and billions more in active funds, regardless of low oil prices or geopolitical tensions.
Middle Eastern funds will invest in Saudi and Kuwaiti stocks this year but remain cautious about other regional markets and are at their least bullish in a January since 2013, according to a Reuters poll.
In Dubai, the index rose 0.6 percent, boosted by a 1.6 percent gain in Dubai Islamic Bank.
The bank, which fell in the last session after declaring a lower dividend, was upgraded by Arqaam Capital, with a target price of 7.6 dirhams, up from 7.2 dirhams.
The brokerage said it welcomed the improved allocation of capital, retaining about 60 percent of its earnings rather than paying out 60 percent as it had in the past.
Deyaar Development increased 1.9 percent after reporting a 7.4 percent rise in its full-year profit to 140.1 million dirhams ($38.15 million).
The Abu Dhabi index rose 0.5 percent. Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank gained 2.6 percent.
Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Union National Bank (UNB) and Al Hilal Bank agreed a merger to create the third-largest bank in the United Arab Emirates, with $114 billion of assets. UNB traded flat.
Qatar's index was down 0.2 percent with Qatar Navigation shedding 1.7 percent.
But Medicare Group was up 0.3 percent after posting a rise in full-year net profit and declaring a dividend of 3 riyals per share.
($1 = 3.6728 UAE dirham)
($1 = 3.7502 riyals)
(Reporting by Shakeel Ahmad and Abinaya Vijayaraghavan in Bengaluru, editing by Larry King) ((firstname.lastname@example.org;))