Most major Gulf markets were up in early trading on Thursday, led by their financial stocks amid rising oil prices, while the Qatar market traded flat as bank and industrial shares moved sideways.
Oil prices rose on Thursday after the signing of an initial Sino-U.S. trade deal that sets the stage for a surge in Chinese purchases of American energy products, while U.S. crude inventories fell more than expected.
Saudi Arabia's index rose 0.3% with National Commercial Bank, the kingdom's largest lender, adding 0.4% and Samba Financial Group increasing 0.6%.
Middle Eastern fund managers plan to increase investments in Saudi Arabia, while keeping exposure in the rest of the region at current levels, according to a Reuters poll.
Five of nine managers polled said they would increase their investments in Saudi Arabia, anticipating favourable policy reforms and market opportunities.
Elsewhere, state-owned oil giant Saudi Aramco slipped 0.3% to 34.6 riyals ($9.22).
On Wednesday, JP Morgan started coverage of the energy giant with an "overweight" rating and a price target of 37 riyals ($9.86), a stronger recommendation than Goldman Sachs' "neutral", Morgan Stanley's "underweight" and HSBC's "hold" ratings.
In Dubai, the index added 0.6% as Emirates NBD Bank advanced 1.9% and DXB Entertainment was up 1.1%.
Abu Dhabi's index edged up 0.2%, supported by a 0.4% gain in the country's largest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank.
However, the Qatari index was flat with Qatar Islamic Bank gaining 1%, a day after it reported a rise in annual profit, while Industries Qatar opened 0.9% down.
($1 = 3.7513 riyals)
(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru Editing by Gareth Jones) ((AteeqUr.Shariff@thomsonreuters.com; +918067497129;))