Saudi Arabia's stock market rose sharply on Wednesday, amid rising oil prices as investors bet OPEC and its allies would largely agree to extend their supply curbs, while other major Gulf markets were little changed in early trade.
The kingdom's benchmark index advanced 1.5%, buoyed by a 2% rise in Al Rajhi Bank and a 2.5% increase in petrochemical maker Saudi Basic Industries.
OPEC and its allies, together called OPEC+, are set to meet on Thursday, following a month in which oil prices have whipsawed on concerns about extended pandemic lockdowns in Europe, slow vaccine rollouts and rising COVID-19 cases in India and Brazil, pitted against growing optimism on growth in the United States.
Saudi Arabia, the de facto leader of OPEC, is prepared to back an extension of the supply cuts into June, including its own voluntary cut, to boost prices, a source briefed on the matter told Reuters this week.
Oil prices, which are the key catalyst for the Gulf's financial markets, rose 46 cents, or 0.7%, to $64.60 a barrel at 0635 GMT, after falling 1.3% on Tuesday.
Dubai's main share index eased 0.1%, hit by a 0.4% fall in top lender Emirates NBD.
In Qatar, the benchmark added 0.3%, with Qatar Islamic Bank gaining 0.8%.
($1 = 3.7503 riyals)
(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Alison Williams) ((AteeqUr.Shariff@thomsonreuters.com; +918061822788;))