Most stock markets in the Gulf ended higher on Thursday, cheered by strong corporate earnings and softer-than-expected U.S. inflation data which encouraged bets of less aggressive rate hikes from the Federal Reserve.

U.S. consumer prices were unchanged in July compared with June, when they rose a monthly 1.3%. The July result was lower than expectations due to a sharp drop in the cost of petrol, causing markets to reposition on hopes that inflation was peaking.

Abu Dhabi's main share index closed at a record high, gaining 1% to 10,198, boosted by a 3.3% leap in the United Arab Emirates' biggest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index climbed 0.8%, with Arab National Bank rising 0.9% and Saudi British Bank finished 0.5% higher. Elsewhere, Saudi Electricity Co gained 0.6%, as the utility firm obtained a $3 billion international syndicated facility.

The Qatari index advanced 1.3%, as most of the stocks on the index were in positive territory including the Gulf's biggest lender Qatar National Bank, which was up 1.7%. The Qatari stock market recorded a positive performance thanks to solid company earnings and higher natural gas prices, said Fadi Reyad, market analyst at MENA. "The main index could thus extend its gains under these favorable conditions."

Crude oil prices, a key catalyst for the Gulf's financial markets, rose by more than 1% after the International Energy Agency raised its oil demand growth forecast for this year as soaring gas prices drive some consumers to switch to oil.

Dubai's main share index bucked the trend to finish 0.3% lower, hit by a 5.3% slide in Air Arabia. The budget airline reported a higher second-quarter net profit, but saw a decrease sequentially in earnings. However, the Dubai index's losses were limited by a 1.2% rise in Dubai Electricity and Water Authority following a rise in second-quarter earnings.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index firmed 0.2%, ending three sessions of losses, with tobacco monopoly Eastern Company rising 2.3%. 

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