Turkey set to raise rates, balancing lira and growth concerns

The Turkish Central Bank is worried about economic slowdown. (Reuters)
Updated 12 September 2018
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Turkey set to raise rates, balancing lira and growth concerns

  • The lira has slumped 40 percent against the dollar this year, weakened partly by unease over President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s influence on monetary policy
  • The central bank confounded expectations for a rate increase at its July meeting, fueling the belief it is under pressure from Erdogan

ISTANBUL: The Turkish Central Bank is expected to raise interest rates on Thursday to calm a currency crisis, but forecasts for the scale of the increase vary widely as the bank balances concerns over lira weakness with worries about an economic slowdown.
The lira has slumped 40 percent against the dollar this year, weakened by unease over President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s influence on monetary policy and more recently a bitter row with the US that has unsettled investors.
The central bank confounded expectations for a rate increase at its July meeting, fueling the belief it is under pressure from Erdogan, who has called interest rates the “mother and father of all evil” and frequently urges they be kept low.
But after inflation surged in August to its highest in nearly 15 years, the central bank said that it would take action against “significant risks” to price stability — a rare move to soothe financial markets.
It said its monetary stance will be adjusted at Thursday’s policy committee meeting. Analysts saw this as pointing to an increase in the benchmark one-week repo rate, now 17.75 percent — less than the annual inflation rate of 17.9 percent.
Phoenix Kalen, strategist at Societe Generale, forecast the repo rate would be raised to 20.75 percent and would be restored as the main policy instrument after a period during which the effective funding rate has been 19.25 percent.
“Although this amount of monetary tightening may disappoint market expectations and spark renewed TRY weakness, the decision would reflect the prioritization of Turkish authorities’ concerns regarding a rapidly decelerating economy,” Kalen said.
Turkey’s economic growth slowed to 5.2 percent in the second quarter, data showed this week, and the economy is expected to slow again in the second half.
In a Reuters poll, all 11 economists predicted the benchmark one-week repo rate would be raised.
The average forecast was to 22 percent, but predictions ranged from an increase of 225 basis points to 725 basis points.


Oil jumps as market tightens, more gains seen

Updated 26 min 53 sec ago
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Oil jumps as market tightens, more gains seen

  • Brent crude hit its highest since May at $80.47 per barrel
  • Commodity traders Trafigura and Mercuria said that Brent could rise to $90 per barrel by Christmas

LONDON: Oil prices rose 2 percent on Monday as US sanctions restricted Iranian crude exports, tightening global supply, with some traders forecasting a spike in crude to as much as $100 per barrel.
Brent crude hit its highest since May at $80.47 per barrel, up $1.63 or more than 2 percent, before easing back slightly to around $80.40 by 0730 GMT. US light crude was $1.18 higher at $71.96.
US commercial crude oil inventories are at their lowest since early 2015 and although US oil production is near a record high of 11 million barrels per day (bpd), subdued US drilling activity points toward a slowdown in output.
Commodity traders Trafigura and Mercuria said on Monday that Brent could rise to $90 per barrel by Christmas and pass $100 in early 2019, as markets tighten once US sanctions against Iran are fully implemented from November.
J.P. Morgan says US sanctions on Iran could lead to a loss of 1.5 million bpd, while Mercuria warned that as much as 2 million bpd could be knocked out of the market.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries as well as top producer Russia are discussing raising output to counter falling supply from Iran, although no decision has been made public yet.
OPEC leader Saudi Arabia and its biggest oil-producer ally outside the group, Russia, on Sunday ruled out any immediate extra increase in output, effectively rebuffing a call by US President Donald Trump for action to cool the market.
“I do not influence prices,” Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih told reporters as OPEC and non-OPEC energy ministers gathered in Algiers for a meeting that ended with no formal recommendation for any additional supply boost.
A source familiar with OPEC discussions told Reuters on Friday that OPEC and other producers have been discussing the possibility of raising output by 500,000 bpd.
“We expect that those OPEC countries with available spare capacity, led by Saudi Arabia, will increase output but not completely offset the drop in Iranian barrels,” said Edward Bell, commodity analyst at Emirates NBD bank.
JP Morgan said in its latest market outlook, published on Friday, that “a spike to $90 per barrel is likely” for oil prices in the coming months due to the Iran sanctions.
Struggling with high crude prices and a weak rupee, Indian refiners are preparing to cut back crude imports.