Markets rattled as Turkish lira dives

AFP – Turkey’s troubled lira tumbled Monday 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.

The country’s troubles already sparked a sell-off on stock markets late last week, but the lira crisis did more damage to equities in Europe and on Wall Street.

The US dollar, Japanese yen and the Swiss franc have been the preferred safe havens for scared investors.

The lira dived to record lows of 7.24 to the dollar and 8.12 against the euro very early in the day, then recovered somewhat after Turkey’s central bank announced a raft of measures aimed at calming markets, only to slip back again late in the session.

"The attempts by Turkey to halt the demise of the lira and the country’s soaring bond yields have proven inadequate thus far," said David Cheetham, chief market analyst at XTB.

Worries were focused on the possible impact on some European banks, including Spain’s BBVA, Italy’s UniCredit and France’s BNP Paribas.

US banks also had a bad session on Monday, with JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Bank of America all losing more than 1.5 percent.

"Investors remained fearful on Monday (over) the Turkish lira’s precipitous plunge — and the concerns that a financial crisis in the country would ripple through the rest of Europe," Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell said.

– ‘Limited impact so far’ –

"So far the impact of the lira crash has been limited in Europe and the rest of the world," said Agathe Demarais, Turkey analyst at The Economist Intelligence Unit, in comments emailed to AFP.





"However, within a few months Western banks that have strong ties with Turkey will feel the impact of the crisis as Turkish corporates will struggle to repay debt in foreign currency.

"The sharp depreciation of the lira has almost doubled the local currency value of external debt repayments since the start of the year," Demarais added.

The lira had tumbled some 16 percent against the dollar on Friday, after US President Donald Trump said he doubled tariffs on steel and aluminum from Turkey.

The 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 Turkey with sanctions over its detention of an American pastor.

Investors are now fretting over potential economic contagion.

In its first statement since what was dubbed "Black Friday" in Turkey, the nation’s central bank said Monday it was ready to take "all necessary measures" to ensure financial stability, promising to provide banks with "all the liquidity" they need.

The central bank also lowered reserve requirement ratios for banks, in a move also aimed at staving off any liquidity issues.

But to the dismay of markets, the statement gave no clear promise of rate hikes, which is what most economists say is needed.

– Bayer stock plunges –

In Frankfurt on Monday, investors fled shares in German chemicals and pharmaceuticals giant Bayer, fearing a massive damages ruling against one of newly-acquired US firm Monsanto’s flagship products could signal a wave of costly lawsuits.

Tesla Motors advanced 0.3 percent after Chief Executive Elon Musk said he was in talks with the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund to financing his plan to take the electric car maker private.

The statement comes as Musk faces questions over his claim last week that he had "secured" financing for the deal.

– Key figures around 2030 GMT –

Dollar/Turkish lira: UP at 6.96 lira from 6.43 lira late Friday

Euro/Turkish lira: UP at 7.94 lira from 7.34 lira

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1405 from $1.1413 at 2100 GMT

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2763 from $1.2758

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 110.63 yen from 110.83 yen

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

New York – S&P 500: DOWN 0.4 percent at 2,821.93 (close)

New York – Nasdaq: DOWN 0.3 percent at 7,819.71 (close)

London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.3 percent at 7,642.45 (close)

Frankfurt – DAX 30: DOWN 0.5 percent at 12,358.74 (close)

Paris – CAC 40: FLAT at 5,412.32 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.5 percent at 3,409.68 (close)

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 2.0 percent at 21,857.43 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 1.5 percent at 27,936.57 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 0.3 percent at 2,785.87 (close)

Oil – Brent Crude: DOWN 20 cents at $72.61 per barrel

Oil – West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 43 cents at $67.20 per barrel

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