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Turkish lira, equities enjoy bounce in Asia

Turkey's lira edged up with other emerging market currencies in Asian trade Tuesday while equities also enjoyed a bounce after the previous day's turmoil.

A teller holds Turkish lira banknotes at a currency exchange office in Istanbul on August 13, 2018. Turkey’s troubled lira tumbled on August 13 to fresh record lows against the euro and dollar, piling pressure on stock markets on fears the country’s crisis could spill over into the world economy. / AFP PHOTO / Yasin AKGUL

Turkey’s lira edged up with other emerging market currencies in Asian trade Tuesday while equities also enjoyed a bounce after the previous day’s turmoil.

Investors slowly edged back into buying mode but they are keeping a nervous eye on developments in Ankara after Monday’s bloodletting that saw the lira hit record lows against the dollar and euro, and equity markets go into freefall on concerns Turkey’s financial crisis could spread globally.

In Asia, the Turkish unit was at 6.60 to the dollar and 7.49 to the euro, well off the 7.24 to the dollar and 8.12 to the euro seen Monday but still uncomfortably high. The unit is down about a fifth against the greenback since Friday.

Fears about contagion in other economies, particularly emerging markets, sparked a sell-off across the board Monday but there were healthy recoveries in Asian business.

The Russian ruble, which lost two percent Monday, jumped 1.7 percent, while the South African rand was 2.2 percent higher, having lost seven percent a day earlier. The Mexican peso was up 1.8 percent.

South Korea’s won was up 0.5 percent after losing almost one percent.

However, the rupee continued to suffer, briefly falling to a record low of 70 to the dollar as the crisis exacerbated a months-long sell-off in the Indian currency, which was already under pressure from a huge current-account deficit and higher oil prices.

N.S. Venkatesh, chief executive of the Association of Mutual Funds in India, told AFP investors were “concerned” about the drop but that he expected the currency to stabilise at around 69, describing India’s economy as “strong”.

“The Reserve Bank of India’s monetary policy has shown concern for the rupee’s fluctuations so investors should not be worried by knee-jerk reactions in the forex market,” Venkatesh said.

India’s central bank has raised interest rates twice this year, in part to help increase the value of the rupee.

– ‘Contagion limited’ –
Turkey’s crisis has been sparked by a series of issues, including a faltering economy — the central bank has defied market calls for rate hikes — and tensions with the United States, which has hit Ankara with sanctions over its detention of an American pastor.

There was some optimism from news that Donald Trump’s national security advisor John Bolton met Turkish Ambassador Serdar Kilic to discuss the pastor issue.

Traders remain nervous, though, and the central bank’s announcement that it would provide lenders with liquidity and lower the amount of cash they needed to keep in reserve largely disappointed as it made no clear promise of rate hikes, which is what most economists say is needed.

Still, Ray Attrill, head of foreign-exchange strategy at the National Australia Bank, was hopeful the crisis will not spread.

“It’s a large local difficulty, but so far the contagion has been relatively limited,” he told Bloomberg Television.

“We’re seeing a little bit of signs of contagion within the eurozone, within the spreads of those government bonds in countries where the banking sector appears to have the biggest exposure as far as Turkey is concerned. You’d have to say that Turkey is relatively contained.”

On equity markets, Tokyo ended 2.3 percent higher as the safe-haven yen eased against the dollar, providing some support to exporters.

Sydney added 0.8 percent and Seoul was 0.5 percent higher, with Wellington, Mumbai and Taipei also posting healthy gains. Singapore was flat.

But Shanghai ended 0.2 percent lower and Hong Kong slipped 0.7 percent.

There remain concerns about how the crisis will pan out, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in combative mood, accusing the US of plotting against his country.

But for now analysts are broadly upbeat that Monday’s plunge would not be repeated.

In early European trade, London rose 0.3 percent, Paris added 0.5 percent and Frankfurt gained 0.7 percent.

– Key figures around 0810 GMT –
Dollar/Turkish lira: DOWN at 6.90 lira from 6.96 lira late Monday

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1423 from $1.1405

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2798 from $1.2763

Dollar/yen: UP at 111.05 yen from 110.63 yen

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 2.3 percent at 22,356.08 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 0.7 percent at 27,752.93 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 0.2 percent at 2,780.96 (close)

London – FTSE 100: UP 0.3 percent at 7,662.27

Oil – West Texas Intermediate: UP 22 cents at $67.42 per barrel

Oil – Brent Crude: UP 15 cents at $72.76 per barrel

New York – Dow Jones: DOWN 0.5 percent at 25,187.70 (close)

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