Most stock markets in the Gulf ended higher on Wednesday, tracking a wider rebound in oil prices and equities after a selloff triggered by worries that the Omicron variant of the coronavirus could resist existing vaccines.
Saudi Arabia's benchmark index gained 0.8%, with Al Rajhi Bank rising 1.7% and Banque Saudi Fransi finishing 8.1% higher.
Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair gained 1% after signing franchise agreements with U.S. fast-food group Subway and Lebanese patisserie Secrets.
The market was supported by a 4% jump in oil prices as major producers prepared to discuss how much of a threat the new variant would pose to energy demand.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will meet later in the day, followed by a meeting on Thursday of OPEC+, which groups OPEC with allies including Russia.
Some analysts expect OPEC+ to pause plans to add 400,000 barrels per day of supply in January on the likely hit to demand from travel curbs imposed to rein in the spread of the variant.
Saudi Arabia on Wednesday reported its first case of Omicron variant that arrived from a north African country, the state news agency said.
In Qatar, broad-based gains pushed up the benchmark 1.5%, with sharia-compliant lender Masraf Al Rayan rising about 3% after completing a merger with Al Khalij Commercial Bank.
Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index added 0.2%, helped by a 0.2% increase in its top lender Commercial International Bank .
** Markets in the United Arab Emirates were closed for a public holiday.
(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni) ((AteeqUr.Shariff@thomsonreuters.com; +918061822788;))