Saudi Arabian shares ended higher on Sunday as Saudi Industrial Investment Group and National Petrochemical Company surged on news the two were in merger talks, while Egypt's blue-chip index extended losses for a second session.
Saudi Arabia's benchmark index rose 0.3%, with SIIG advancing 5.5% and National Petrochemical Company jumping 6.8%.
A deal between the two would mark further consolidation in the Saudi petrochemicals sector after oil giant Saudi Aramco bought a 70% stake in Saudi Basic Industries in June. Saudi Aramco was up 0.8%.
Dubai's main share index reversed earlier losses to close flat. Emirates NBD Bank dropped 0.9%, while sharia-compliant lender Dubai Islamic Bank was down 0.7%.
Logistics firm Aramex however climbed 3.4%, extending gains from the previous session. On Thursday, Abu Dhabi-backed holding company ADQ said it had acquired about a 22% stake in Aramex, making it the firm's biggest shareholder.
The Abu Dhabi index gained 0.8%, buoyed by a 2.2% rise in the country's largest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank and a 1.7% increase in Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank.
Last week, ADIB signed a memorandum of understanding with Israel's Bank Leumi to explore areas for future cooperation in the United Arab Emirates, Israel and other international markets.
In Qatar, the index slipped 0.3%, hurt by a 1.7% decline in petrochemical maker Industries Qatar.
Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index dropped 0.7%, with most of the stocks on the index in negative territory including Commercial International Bank, which fell 0.5%.
(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Jan Harvey) ((AteeqUr.Shariff@thomsonreuters.com; +918061822788;))