Turkey’s lira nears all-time low after central bank cuts interest rates

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Turkey’s lira edged close its all-time low on Friday, driven by fleeing foreign investors but mitigated by local bargain hunting, a day after the central bank unexpectedly cut interest rates and gave little hint how low it could go.

The currency - prone to sharp swings and an emerging-markets laggard for several years now - weakened 1 percent to 8.855 versus the dollar by 0749 GMT, near its low water mark of 8.880 set in June.

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The lira also dove on Thursday when the bank slashed its key rate by 100 basis points to 18 percent despite high inflation, delivering the stimulus long sought by President Tayyip Erdogan and reinforcing analysts’ worries over political interference.

The central bank provided little guidance on the future path of policy, yet Societe Generale, Barclays, JPMorgan, and Goldman Sachs all said they expect further rate cuts in coming months.

Still, after a years-long exodus of foreign funds from Turkish assets, the lira’s fate is largely in the hands of local businesses, investors and savers.

Traders said sales of dollars and other hard currencies by Turks was instrumental in limiting the lira depreciation on Thursday, when corporates and individuals sold $1 billion-$2 billion according to the calculations of four traders.

“The central bank’s decision, which was unexpected for some, put the lira under serious selling pressure. But seeing it as an opportunity, locals’ forex sales of at least $1 billion was the main factor limiting the losses,” said a trader who requested anonymity.

Turks who bought dollars a year ago booked a 15 percent profit, traders noted.

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