Saudi Arabia's stock market ended lower on Thursday, tracking a fall in oil prices as some governments took measures to slow the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant, while the Dubai index rose for a seventh consecutive session.
Brent crude futures fell $1, or 1.3%, to $74.82 a barrel by 1310 GMT after touching a peak of $76.70.
Saudi Arabia's benchmark index dropped 0.5%, dragged down by a 0.7% fall in Al Rajhi Bank and a 0.9% decline in oil behemoth Saudi Aramco.
Demand for Saudi oil is not improving as refineries in Asia did not increase their orders which could leave oil prices and the Saudi stock market without an important support, said Farah Mourad, senior market analyst of XTB MENA.
On the other hand, shares of Saudi Tadawul Group 1111.SE , the kingdom's stock exchange operator, gained more than 6% in their second day of trading.
In Abu Dhabi, the index retreated 0.8%, hit by a 2.3% fall in the country's largest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank.
Dubai's main share index advanced 0.9%, extending gains to a seventh consecutive session, buoyed by a 2.3% rise in sharia-compliant lender Dubai Islamic Bank.
The United Arab Emirates expects its move to a 4-1/2 day working week and a Saturday-Sunday weekend will boost its economy and make it a more attractive place for foreigners to live, the minister of human resources and Emiratisation said on Wednesday.
The market remains fundamentally directed towards growth as new IPOs continue being announced and the shift to the new weekend scheme could start showing its impact on investment and trade, said Mourad.
The Qatari benchmarkedged 0.1% higher, helped by a 0.5% increase in Qatar Islamic Bank.
Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index finished 0.7% higher, driven by a 20% surge in Abu Qir Fertilizers following a block trade worth 2.25 billion Egyptian pounds ($143.59 million).
($1 = 15.6700 Egyptian pounds)
(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi) ((AteeqUr.Shariff@thomsonreuters.com; +918061822788;))