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MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi bourse gains, other major Gulf markets ease

·2 min read

Aug 18 (Reuters) - The Saudi bourse's main index rose to its highest in over two months early on Thursday after the IMF held its 2022 economic growth forecast for the kingdom while other markets in the Gulf eased amid concerns about a potential global recession.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index gained 0.3%, reaching its highest since June, with Al Rajhi Bank rising 1% and Retal Urban Development Co adding 0.7%.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Wednesday maintained its economic growth forecast for Saudi Arabia even as concerns persist that the global economy may heading towards a recession.

Saudi Arabia's economy was still projected to grow by 7.6% this year, which the IMF said would likely be one of the fastest growth rates in the world, helped by strong oil demand and 4.2% expected growth in the kingdom's non-oil sector.

Dubai's main share index added 0.2%, helped by a 0.8% increase in blue-chip developer Emaar Properties ahead of a board meeting on Thursday to discuss the sale of its e-commerce fashion business.

The operator of Dubai International Airport said on Wednesday the Middle East hub could see monthly passenger traffic return to pre-pandemic levels in the latter half of next year.

In Abu Dhabi, the main share index was 0.3% down, hit by a 0.4% fall in conglomerate International Holding Co .

Elsewhere Aldar Properties fell 0.6%, after Apollo Global Management Inc, a manager of alternative assets, acquired a minority stake in a subsidiary of Aldar.

Apollo and Aldar said the deal was part of a previously announced $1.4 billion investment by Apollo in Aldar in February.

Crude prices, a key catalyst for the Gulf's financial markets, were little changed as investors grappled with falling stockpiles in the United States, rising output from Russia and worries about a potential global recession.

The Qatari benchmark index lost 0.3%, with Commercial Bank retreating 2.1%.

(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)