IMF: Mideast oil exporters face slower growth

The International Monetary Fund predicts Middle Eastern oil producers will see economic growth slow considerably this year as income from crude drops by half. The IMF expects the economies of the countries - including both the oil-rich Gulf and poorer producers like Algeria and Yemen - will grow by 3.6 percent this year. Last year's growth was 5.6 percent. A big part of the decline comes from lower oil prices and production cutbacks intended to help stabilize crude's slide. The IMF sees oil prices averaging about $50 a barrel this year, down from about $100 in 2008. Several Gulf countries nonetheless plan to maintain generous state spending, which the IMF believes is helping stabilize the global economic crisis.