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Traders see a method to Turkish lira's recent slide

By Nevzat Devranoglu ANKARA (Reuters) - A six-day slide in Turkey's lira has left traders predicting that authorities are now targeting a new level, as weak as 15.5 to the dollar,...
Traders see a method to Turkish lira's recent slide © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A money changer counts Turkish lira banknotes at a currency exchange office in Ankara, Turkey September 27, 2021. REUTERS/Cagla Gurdogan/

By Nevzat Devranoglu

ANKARA (Reuters) - A six-day slide in Turkey's lira has left traders predicting that authorities are now targeting a new level, as weak as 15.5 to the dollar, in a months-long effort to stabilise the exchange rate using its depleted reserves together with other measures.

Four Turkish traders said the central bank has likely set a new trading band of 15 to 15.5, allowing some depreciation in the face of a global flight to the dollar and to relieve pressure on the bank's dwindling foreign reserves.

One bank trader said more depreciation would be allowed so that the lira remains between 15.5 and 16 to the dollar, which has risen as the U.S. Federal Reserve raises interest rates to head off inflation, hurting emerging markets.

The lira has returned to lows last hit in late December, after a series of unorthodox interest rate cuts sparked a currency crisis that rattled the economy.

On Thursday, it weakened as far as 15.4295 and was at 15.382 as of 0832 GMT. It has lost more than 14% of its value this year, following a 44% plunge last year.

Given that the central bank's reserves are actually negative when swaps are accounted for, traders said lira weakening was necessary if the bank plans to keep trying to steady the exchange rate as it has done since the December crisis.

"If the government sets a firm level in exchange rates without taking into account international developments, the reserves cost will be massive. The exchange rate cannot sit at a certain level for long with negative reserves," a senior banker told Reuters.

"Even though we do not think this policy is right, we see the lira's recent weakening as a necessity. Otherwise it could have gotten out of control."

The central bank's forex reserves have dropped sharply in recent years, most recently due to billions of dollars the bank sold in market interventions to stem the crisis, only some of which were announced publicly.

The bank's net foreign reserves were $17 billion at the end of April.

The central bank says the exchange rate is determined by the market. But bankers' calculations show central bank reserves are not rising as much as they should given rules such as the requirement for exporters to sell 40% of their hard currency profits to the central bank, suggesting the bank is still intervening.

Investors describe the FX rate as a "government-controlled" regime. Many say it cannot last in the long run given Turkey's inflation and current account deficit have soared, and funds are fleeing emerging markets in general.

Still, the currency has been notably stable this year, apart from just after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which sent Turkey's energy import costs soaring.

In its latest stabilising effort, authorities asked banks to carry out trades with corporate clients between 10 a.m. (0700 GMT) and 4 p.m. (1300 GMT) when the market is most liquid to help avoid price swings, Reuters reported this week.

At the height of the December crisis the lira touched 18.4 to the dollar, leading the central bank to intervene and the government to announce measures including a scheme to protect lira deposits against depreciation.

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22-05-2022 00:54:43 (UTC+7)

EUR/USD

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EUR/USD

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US Small Cap 2000

1,768.35

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8,484.50

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Bayer AG NA

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Allianz SE VNA O.N.

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Adidas AG

172.80

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Deutsche Lufthansa AG

6.852

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115.08

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 EUR/USD1.0562↑ Buy
 GBP/USD1.2489Neutral
 USD/JPY127.86Neutral
 AUD/USD0.7039Sell
 USD/CAD1.2839↑ Buy
 EUR/JPY135.05Neutral
 EUR/CHF1.0296↑ Buy
 Gold1,845.10↑ Buy
 Silver21.765↑ Sell
 Copper4.3042↑ Buy
 Crude Oil WTI110.35↑ Sell
 Brent Oil112.91↑ Sell
 Natural Gas8.058↑ Sell
 US Coffee C216.48↑ Buy
 Euro Stoxx 503,657.03↑ Buy
 S&P 5003,901.36↑ Buy
 DAX13,981.91Buy
 FTSE 1007,389.98Neutral
 Hang Seng20,717.24↑ Sell
 Small Cap 20001,768.35↑ Buy
 IBEX 358,484.50Neutral
 BASF48.850Buy
 Bayer63.74Buy
 Allianz195.58Buy
 Adidas172.80Buy
 Lufthansa6.852↑ Sell
 Siemens AG115.08Neutral
 Deutsche Bank AG9.362Buy
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