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Most Gulf Markets in Red; Qatar Extends Gains

July 20 (Reuters) - Most stock markets in the Gulf were subdued on Thursday, extending losses from the previous session after a weak economic forecast for the region.

Economic growth in five countries in the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is forecast to be weaker than expected three months earlier on lower prices of oil, the region's main export, according to a Reuters poll of economists.

Only Bahrain's growth rate was upgraded to 3.0% from 2.7% in the previous poll. Average growth across the six GCC economies is forecast to be 1.5% this year, slightly more than half the 2.8% forecast in April.

In Abu Dhabi, the index dropped 0.4%, hit by a 1.5% fall in the country's biggest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank ahead of an earnings announcement.

Dubai's main share index finished flat towards negative territory a day after snapping eight sessions of gains.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index was flat.

However, the Qatari benchmark bucked the trend to close 0.7% higher, with Qatar Islamic Bank gaing 0.7%.

The Qatari stock market extended its gains supported by a strong banking sector, said Ahmed Negm, Head of Market Research MENA at

"The main index could also maintain its gains if natural gas prices continue to improve."

** Markets in Kuwait, Oman and Egypt were closed for a public holiday


 was flat at 11,756


 fell 0.4% to 9,629


 was flat at 3,986


 gained 0.7% to 10,118


 dropped 0.5% to 1,977

Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Alexandra Hudson

Source: Reuters

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