Turkish lira sinks to new record low amid possible US sanctions

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Turkey's lira touched a fresh record low against the dollar on Wednesday, hit by investor unease over possible US sanctions, fraught ties with the European Union and the ongoing Caucasus conflict.

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The lira hit a record low of 7.87 against the US currency, weakening from a close of 7.8050 on Wednesday. By 1000 GMT it stood at 7.8550.

It has lost 24 percent of its value this year on concerns over the central bank's depleted forex reserves, costly interventions in the currency market, and geopolitical issues.

Concerns over possible US sanctions resurfaced after Bloomberg reported on Tuesday that Ankara would begin testing the Russian S-400 missile defense system.

Tensions between Ankara and the EU appeared to rise after President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday decisions at an EU summit last week over disputes including maritime claims in the eastern Mediterranean had been insufficient to resolve disagreements.

Erdogan and a Turkish Cypriot leader also announced on Tuesday the partial reopening of a Cypriot resort abandoned since the 1974 invasion by Turkey. This drew condemnation from Greece and the Greek Cypriot government.

“The EU-related concerns over geopolitical tensions decreased in recent days due to a move towards dialogue. But as of this week, an increase in tensions in both Azerbaijan and the EU can be observed,” a banker said.

Fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh is at its most intense in 25 years. Ankara's backing for Baku has set Turkey apart from other big nations, alarming NATO allies who seek a ceasefire.

Investors were also assessing the Treasury's first eurobond issue since February. The treasury borrowed $2.5 billion in a dollar-denominated eurobond issue maturing in 2025, with a coupon rate of 6.375 percent, data showed.

Despite all the recent geopolitical tensions and turbulence in its financial markets this year, Turkey sold a $2.5 billion 5-year eurobond on Tuesday that gave buyers 6.4 percent interest.

Turkey's dollar-denominated bonds weakened, with the April 2043 and February 2045 issues both losing more than 1 cent on the dollar, their biggest daily fall in two weeks, Tradeweb data showed.

Five-year Turkey credit default swaps rose to 511 basis points, up 9 basis points from Tuesday's close, according to IHS Markit.

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