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.


Saudi Aramco concerned over Gulf attacks, has capacity to meet demand: CEO

Updated 25 June 2019
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Saudi Aramco concerned over Gulf attacks, has capacity to meet demand: CEO

  • ‘What’s happening in the Gulf is definitely a concern’
  • Aramco has no plan to increase its current maximum output capacity of 12 million barrels per day, given sizeable spare capacity

Saudi Aramco concerned over Gulf attacks, has capacity to meet demand: CEO
SEOUL: Saudi Aramco is concerned at recent actions in the Gulf but can meet its customers’ needs thanks to its experience and the availability of additional spare capacity, its chief executive said on Tuesday.
“What’s happening in the Gulf is definitely a concern,” Amin Nasser, president and chief executive of Saudi Arabia’s state oil giant, told Reuters in an interview.
“At the same time, we went through a number of crises in the past ... we’ve always met our customer commitments and we do have flexibility and the system availability in terms of available additional spare capacity.”
Recent tanker attacks in the Gulf have raised fears about safety of one of the world’s key shipping routes and pushed up oil prices.
Nasser, who is in Seoul ahead of a visit by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, said Aramco has no plan to increase its current maximum output capacity of 12 million barrels per day (bpd), given sizeable spare capacity.
“If you look at our production, it is hovering around 10 million barrels per day so we do have additional spare capacity,” he said.
The oil giant is aiming to become a major global gas player, and has been developing its own gas resources as well as eyeing gas assets in the United States, Russia, Australia and Africa.
Nasser said Aramco is in talks to buy a stake in Russian gas company Novatek’s Arctic LNG-2 project, while exploring other investment opportunities in gas.
He confirmed the company is also in discussions about buying a stake in India’s Reliance Industries and in talks with other Asian companies about investments.
“We will continue to explore opportunities in different markets and different companies, and these things take time,” he said.
Nasser said the company, South Korea’s top oil supplier, was looking to increase its crude oil supplies to the country where it has partnerships and investments with South Korean refiners.
Saudi Aramco supplies between 800,000 barrels per day (bpd) and 900,000 bpd to South Korea, the world’s fifth-largest crude importer.