Saudi Arabia's stock market rose in early trade on Thursday, holding on to a 15-year high, while the Qatari index extended gains to a second session.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index advanced 0.2%, with Al Rajhi Bank rising 0.9%, while Dr Sulaiman Al-Habib Medical Services Group leapt 3.3%.

Among other gainers, oil giant Saudi Aramco added 0.2% after HSBC raised its target price to 38.8 riyals from 37.5 riyals earlier.

Economies in the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will grow faster next year than previously thought, according to a Reuters poll of economists who warned a decline in oil and gas prices was the biggest risk to their outlook. 

All GCC economies are highly reliant on oil and gas exports and any disruption in energy prices due to geopolitical tension and a slowdown in the global economy could hurt the recovery.

Saudi will see 5.1% economic growth next year after a modest 2.3% expansion this year and a sharp 4.1% contraction last year.

In Qatar, the benchmark index gained 0.3%, led by a 3.9% leap in Qatar Gas Transport (Nakilat), rising for a seventh session in eight.

On Sunday, Nakilat, one of the world's largest shippers of liquefied natural gas, reported a net profit of 1 billion riyals ($273.37 million) for the nine months ended Sept. 30, up from 899.5 million riyals year ago. 

** UAE markets were closed for a public holiday

($1 = 3.6580 Qatar riyals)

(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi) ((; +918061822788;))