European markets rattle as Turkish lira dives

European markets rattle as Turkish lira dives

LSE London Stock Exchange
Logo of the London Stock Exchange.

LONDON: Turkey's troubled lira tumbled on Monday (Aug 13) to fresh record lows against the euro and dollar, piling pressure on stock markets on fears the country's crisis could spill over into the world economy.

Having already sparked a sell-off on stock markets late last week, the lira crisis did more damage to equities in Europe and on Wall Street.

The US dollar, the yen and the Swiss franc were scared investors' preferred safe havens.

The lira dived to record lows of 7.24 to the dollar and 8.12 versus the euro very early in the day, then recovered somewhat after Turkey's central bank announced a raft of measures aimed at calming markets, only to slip back again late in the session.

"The attempts by Turkey to halt the demise of the lira and the country's soaring bond yields have proven inadequate thus far," said David Cheetham, chief market analyst at XTB.

Worries were focused on the possible impact on some European banks, including Spain's BBVA, Italy's UniCredit and France's BNP Paribas.

"Investors remained fearful on Monday (over) the Turkish lira's precipitous plunge - and the concerns that a financial crisis in the country would ripple through the rest of Europe," said Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell.

'LIMITED IMPACT SO FAR'

"So far the impact of the lira crash has been limited in Europe and the rest of the world," said Agathe Demarais, Turkey analyst at The Economist Intelligence Unit, in comments emailed to AFP.

"However, within a few months Western banks that have strong ties with Turkey will feel the impact of the crisis as Turkish corporates will struggle to repay debt in foreign currency.

"The sharp depreciation of the lira has almost doubled the local currency value of external debt repayments since the start of the year," Demarais added.

The lira had tumbled some 16 percent against the dollar on Friday, as US President Donald Trump said he had doubled tariffs on steel and aluminium from Turkey.

The crisis has been sparked by a series of issues including a faltering economy - the central bank has defied market calls for rate hikes - and tensions with the United States, which has hit Turkey with sanctions over its detention of an American pastor.

Investors are now fretting over potential economic contagion.

In its first statement since what was dubbed "Black Friday" in Turkey, the nation's central bank said on Monday that it was ready to take "all necessary measures" to ensure financial stability, promising to provide banks with "all the liquidity" they need.

The bank also revised reserve requirement ratios for banks, in a move also aimed at staving off any liquidity issues.

But to the dismay of markets, the statement gave no clear promise of rate hikes, which is what most economists say is needed.

BAYER STOCK PLUNGES

In Frankfurt on Monday, investors fled shares in German chemicals and pharmaceuticals giant Bayer, fearing a massive damages ruling against one of newly-acquired US firm Monsanto's flagship products could signal a wave of costly lawsuits.

A California jury on Friday awarded dying groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson damages of almost US$290 million, saying Monsanto should have warned buyers that its flagship Roundup weedkiller could cause cancer.

While observers have predicted thousands of other suits could follow, Bayer said the jury's findings went against scientific evidence and that other courts might "arrive at different conclusions".

Key figures at 1540 GMT:

Dollar/Turkish lira: UP at 6.93 lira from 6.43 lira late Friday

Euro/Turkish lira: UP at 7.94 lira from 7.34 lira

Euro/dollar: DOWN at US$1.1409 from US$1.1413 at 2100 GMT

Pound/dollar: UP at US$1.2764 from US$1.2758

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 110.68 yen from 110.83 yen

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.3 per cent at 7,642.45 points (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 0.5 per cent at 12,358.74 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: FLAT at 5,412.32 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.5 per cent at 3,410.10

New York - Dow Jones: DOWN 0.2 per cent at 25,256.54

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 2.0 per cent at 21,857.43 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: DOWN 1.5 per cent at 27,936.57 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.3 per cent at 2,785.87 (close)

Oil - Brent Crude: DOWN 12 cents at US$72.69 per barrel

Oil - West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 26 cents at US$67.37 per barrel

Source: AFP/de

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