Most Gulf bourses ended higher on Thursday with Qatar leading the gains, boosted by market heavyweight Industries Qatar, although weakness in real estate shares weighed on the Dubai index.
The Qatar index rose 1.4%, with petrochemical firm Industries Qatar advancing 4.6% and Qatar National Bank, the Gulf's largest lender, gaining 2.6%.
The lender and Al Khaliji Commercial Bank said on Tuesday they had begun negotiating a potential merger that could create a combined entity with more than 164 billion riyals ($45.04 billion) in total assets.
Al Khaliji Commercial Bank, which is not part of the index, soared 10%, extending gains from the previous session.
Saudi Arabia's benchmark index added 0.8%. Al Rajhi Bank increased 0.7%, while petrochemical maker Saudi Basic Industries closed up 1.3%.
The kingdom extended several government initiatives to support the private sector in mitigating the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, state news agency SPA reported on Thursday, citing a decision by King Salman.
The Abu Dhabi index gained 0.6%, buoyed by a 1% rise in the country's largest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank.
Among others, Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (TAQA) jumped 14.9%, its biggest intraday gain since June last year.
On Wednesday, Moody's upgraded the issuer rating of TAQA to Aa3 after a successful transfer of assets with a stable outlook.
Dubai's main share index edged down 0.1%, hurt by a 1.5% fall in blue-chip developer Emaar Properties and a 2.2% fall in DAMAC Properties.
DAMAC closed up 7.2% in the previous session following a Reuters report that its chairman was weighing a buy-out of minority shareholders and taking the company private.
** Egypt was closed for a public holiday.
($1 = 3.6416 Qatar riyals)
(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru Editing by Mark Heinrich) ((AteeqUr.Shariff@thomsonreuters.com; +918061822788;))