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DUBAI: Most major stock markets in the Gulf ended higher on Wednesday, largely supported by strong corporate earnings, while the Dubai index closed lower and was the only laggard. Saudi Arabia's benchmark index rose 0.2%, helped by a 0.4% gain in Al Rajhi Bank and a 0.6% increase in oil behemoth Saudi Aramco.

Ratings firm Fitch raised Aramco's outlook to stable and affirmed its IDR at "A".

In Abu Dhabi, the index advanced 1%, buoyed by a 0.8% rise in conglomerate International Holding and a 1.8% increase in Aldar Properties. Among other gainers, First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) was up 0.1% after the United Arab Emirates' largest lender posted a net profit of 2.88 billion dirhams ($783.9 million) for the quarter to June 30, up from 2.4 billion a year earlier.

FAB's net impairment charges fell 36% to 677 million dirhams while those of Emirates NBD almost halved to 851 million dirhams. The Qatari benchmark added 0.4%, with Commercial Bank leaping 3.4%, after it recommended a shareholder meeting to increase foreign ownership limit to 100%.

The lender reported a rise in first-half net profit on Tuesday. Dubai's main share index dropped 0.4%, hit by a 1% fall in blue-chip developer Emaar Properties and a 0.7% decline in Emirates NBD Bank. Emirates NBD posted a second-quarter net profit of 2.46 billion dirhams ($669.79 million), up from 2.01 billion dirhams, but it saw a decline in net interest income.

However, Dubai Islamic Bank edged up 0.2% after it posted flat quarterly net income. Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index was up 0.1%. Egypt's economy will grow 5.0% in the fiscal year that ends in June next year, a Reuters survey predicted on Monday, unchanged from analysts' expectations in a similar poll three months ago and slightly below the government's target of 5.4%.

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