EM-Stocks hold ground, Turkish lira inches towards record lows

The currency is headed for yearly declines of 20%, after becoming the worst performing currency of 2021.
Image: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

A gauge for emerging market stocks started the week on a firm footing on Monday, lifted by gains in China shares, while Turkey’s lira weakened against the dollar on worries of galloping inflation.

The lira weakened as far as 16.57 to the greenback, bringing it close to record lows hit in December, 2021 in a currency crisis triggered by a series of unorthodox interest rate cuts.

The currency is headed for yearly declines of 20%, after becoming the worst performing currency of 2021. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday that inflation figures from the month of May, when annual consumer prices jumped to a 24-year high, showed inflation was now on a downward trend.

Turkish Finance Minister Nureddin Nebati was cited by Milliyet newspaper telling deputies from Erdogan’s ruling AK Party at a weekend meeting that a near-term rate hike or cut was not being considered.

Other emerging market currencies were seen firming. South Africa’s rand rose 0.6% and the Russian rouble opened 0.4% firmer against the dollar.

The MSCI’s gauge for emerging market stocks rose 0.6%, with stocks in China boosting gains.

Beijing and Shanghai have been returning to normal life following the biggest Covid-19 outbreak in two years, while measures to revive economic growth have also helped to lift risk sentiment.

Investors prepared for a busy week, packed with central bank policy meetings as inflation takes centre stage amid a major European Central Bank meeting and US consumer price data.

Strategists at ING say a rate hike from the ECB is highly unlikely, but “the question of why the ECB is willing to wait another month despite rapidly rising inflation will likely be raised”.

A Reuters poll showed Poland’s central bank is expected to raise its main interest rate by 75 basis points to 6.00% on Wednesday, against the backdrop of surging inflation and risks of slowing growth due to the Ukraine war. The zloty dipped against the euro on Monday.

The Czech National Bank looks likely to raise interest rates again at its June 22 meeting as developments in the economy are still inflationary, Governor Jiri Rusnok said. The koruna fell against the euro.

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