Major Gulf shares range-bound; Dubai underperforms

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Traders wait at the Bahrain Bourse after Joe Biden won the U.S. presidency, in Manama, Bahrain, November 8, 2020. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

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May 23 (Reuters) - Major Gulf stock markets were range-bound in early trade on Monday, as investors weighed rising oil prices and a slowdown in economic growth.

Shares in the region lost ground in recent weeks amid anxiety about fast-rising inflation that will drive a sharp rise in interest rates and put global economic growth at risk.

In Abu Dhabi, the index (.FTFADGI) dropped 1.7%, hit by a 1.8% fall in the United Arab Emirates' largest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank.

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The main share index (.DFMGI) in Dubai, the Middle East's travel and tourism hub, retreated 2.1%, dragged down by 3.4% slide in blue-chip developer Emaar Properties (EMAR.DU) and a 3.2% decline in Emirates Integrated Telecommunications (DU.DU).

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index (.TASI) gained 0.5%, led by a 0.8% rise in in Al Rajhi Bank (1120.SE) and a 1.6% increase in the country's largest lender Saudi National Bank (1180.SE).

Elsewhere, Kingdom Holding (4280.SE) surged 9.9%, extending gains from the previous session.

Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal signed an agreement with the kingdom's powerful sovereign wealth fund to sell 16.87% of his investment firm Kingdom Holding to the fund.

The share price for the agreement was where the stock closed on Thursday, its lowest level in a year. It rallied 9.9% to 9.99 riyals on Sunday.

The Qatari index (.QSI) advanced 1%, with Qatar Islamic Bank (QISB.QA) putting on 2.1%, while Masraf Al Rayan (MARK.QA) climbed 1.9%.

Oil prices, a key catalyst for the Gulf's financial markets, gained with U.S. fuel demand, tight supply and a slightly weaker dollar supporting the market, as Shanghai prepares to reopen after a two-month lockdown fuelled worries about a sharp slowdown in growth.

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Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich

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