Turkish economy shrinks 2.6% in Q1 as recession bites

The Turkish lira has come under renewed pressure in recent months as investors fretted about the threat of new US sanctions. (Reuters)
Updated 31 May 2019
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Turkish economy shrinks 2.6% in Q1 as recession bites

  • Turkey has been rocked by a 36 percent tumble in the lira’s value against the dollar since the end of 2017
  • Weakness in the construction and industrial sectors dragged badly on the economy in the first quarter

ISTANBUL: The Turkish economy contracted 2.6 percent year-on-year in the first quarter, in line with expectations, as the official data reinforced the country’s slide into recession after last year’s currency crisis.
The major emerging market economy, which has a track record of more than 5 percent growth, has been rocked by a 36 percent tumble in the lira’s value against the dollar since the end of 2017. Inflation shot up last year and the central bank hiked rates to slow economic activity.
A Reuters poll forecast an annual shrinkage of 2.5 percent in the latest quarter.
Compared to the previous quarter, first quarter GDP expanded a seasonally and calendar-adjusted 1.3 percent, the Turkish Statistical Institute data showed.
The data also confirmed that the Middle East’s largest economy contracted 3 percent year-on-year in the fourth quarter, its worst in nearly a decade, capping a year in which it logged 2.6 percent overall growth.
Weakness in the construction and industrial sectors dragged badly on the economy in the first quarter, while agriculture expanded.
Last year’s currency crisis, brought on by concerns over a diplomatic row with Washington and the independence of the central bank, ended years of a construction-fueled boom driven by cheap foreign capital.
The lira has come under renewed pressure in recent months as investors fretted about the threat of new US sanctions, uncertainty over local election results, declining central bank reserves and a trend of Turks ramping up foreign holdings.
Initial data for the second quarter has shown continued poor sentiment regarding the economic outlook.
The Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for manufacturing fell to 46.8 in April from 47.2 in March, while consumer confidence tumbled to 55.3 points in May, its lowest level since the data was first published in 2004.
Official data on Friday showed the foreign trade deficit narrowed 55.6 percent year-on-year in April to $2.982 billion, with exports rising 4.6 percent while imports slid 15.1 percent.


No crowds as Apple’s iPhone 11 hits stores in China

Updated 20 September 2019
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No crowds as Apple’s iPhone 11 hits stores in China

  • The sales performance of the US tech giant’s latest line-up is being closely watched in the world’s largest smartphone market
  • Apple has been losing ground to competitors with cheaper and feature-packed handsets in recent years

BEIJING/SHANGHAI: Apple’s latest iPhone 11 range hit stores in China on Friday, with short queues of die-hard fans contrasting with the hundreds who camped out ahead of some previous launches.
The sales performance of the US tech giant’s latest line-up is being closely watched in the world’s largest smartphone market, where Apple has been losing ground to competitors with cheaper and feature-packed handsets in recent years.
The queues at the Shanghai and Beijing stores, which combined added up to few dozen customers, were in sharp contrast to previous years, when hundreds used to wait for hours outside Apple’s shops to be the first to grab its latest offerings.
But much of the fanfare in China has moved online where the pre-sales for iPhone 11, priced between $699 and $1,099, started last week.
Analysts said they had gotten off to a better start than the last cycle a year ago. Chinese e-commerce site JD.com said day one pre-sales for the iPhone 11 series were up 480 percent versus comparable sales for the iPhone XR last year.
Among customers that took to a store in Beijing on Friday to make a purchase in person was a programmer who only gave his surname as Liu, who said he had a model from every Apple series since the 3G range.
He said he was particularly attracted to the more expensive iPhone 11 Pro, which has three cameras on the back. “When it comes to taking photos, it’s better for night shots and the image is clearer,” he told Reuters.
Other customers, however, said that they were concerned that the range was not enabled for fifth-generation networks, putting them behind 5G models already released by China’s Huawei Technologies and smaller rival Vivo, and expressed hopes that Apple could make it happen for its next line-up.
“I think by the end of next year, especially in big cities like Beijing, 5G will be commonplace,” said civil servant Liu Liu. “If they don’t research this then they’ll lag way behind.”
The in-store launch of the iPhone 11 in China came a day after Chinese smartphone maker Huawei unveiled new smartphones which it said were more compact, with more sensitive cameras and wraparound screens more vivid than those of the latest iPhone, though it played down concerns about the lack of access to Google’s popular apps.
Huawei has experienced a surge in support from Chinese consumers after the brand was caught up in a trade war between the United States and China, which has in turn eaten into Apple’s market share in the country.