Turkish lira slides almost 8% after intervention-driven surge

The lira tumbled almost 8% against the dollar on Monday amid persisting investor concern over Turkey’s monetary policy, after the Lira surged more than 50% last week following billions of dollars of state-backed market interventions.

The lira was also supported last week by a government move to cover FX losses on certain deposits.

It weakened to as low as 11.6 against the greenback on Monday before trimming losses to trade at 11.35 by 0800 GMT.

“The main exchange rate resistance is at 11.45 and 12.0, with support levels of 10.57 and 10.25,” QNB Invest said in a daily bulletin.

Last week’s rally brought the Turkish currency back to mid-November levels.

Last Monday, it had plunged to an all-time low of 18.4 per dollar, after a month-long slide due to fears of spiraling inflation driven by a succession of interest rate cuts engineered by President Tayyip Erdogan.

At current levels, the currency is still 35% weaker than at the end of last year.

Erdogan unveiled late last Monday a scheme under which the Treasury and central bank would reimburse losses on converted lira deposits against foreign currencies, sparking the lira’s biggest intraday rally.

Turks did not sell dollars in large quantities on Monday and Tuesday of last week, according to official data that suggested they had played little role in the gains. State interventions, meanwhile, cost the central bank more than $8 billion last week, according to traders’ calculations.

The central bank sold $1.35 billion in direct forex interventions on Dec. 2-3 to support the lira when it stood around 13.5 per dollar, according to data.

In an interview with broadcaster AHaber, Erdogan said Turks showed confidence in the local currency and deposits increased by 23.8 billion lira after the anti-dollarisation plan announcement.

But data from the BDDK banking watchdog showed that after heavy accumulation of dollars the previous week, Turkish individual depositors held $163.7 billion of hard currencies last Tuesday, virtually unchanged from Monday and Friday, when the total was $163.8 billion.

The lira got a big boost last week from what traders and economists called backdoor dollar sales by state banks, supported by the central bank.

Under pressure from Erdogan, the central bank has slashed its policy rates by 500 basis points to 14% since September, despite inflation that has risen to more than 21%. Price rises are set to exceed 30% next year in part due to the lira depreciation, economists predict.

The main BIST 100 stock index in Istanbul rose 2.6% on Monday morning.


Written by