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Markets

Turkish lira slides 2pc, airlines hit as coronavirus spreads

Airline shares also came under pressure, hit by a drastic reduction in flights, with Pegasus Airlines halting domes
30 Mar 2020
  • Airline shares also came under pressure, hit by a drastic reduction in flights, with Pegasus Airlines halting domestic flights until April 30.
  • The lira stood at 6.5750 against the dollar at 1225 GMT, weakening from a close of 6.4505 on Friday.

ISTANBUL: The Turkish lira tumbled nearly 2pc against the dollar on Monday as the number of coronavirus cases continued to surge in Turkey and world markets tumbled on worries over the length of a global economic shutdown.

Airline shares also came under pressure, hit by a drastic reduction in flights, with Pegasus Airlines halting domestic flights until April 30.

The lira stood at 6.5750 against the dollar at 1225 GMT, weakening from a close of 6.4505 on Friday.

Though one of the more durable among its peers, the lira has fallen nearly 10pc this year amid the global selloff triggered by the pandemic.

"We can see that a flight from risk is dominant in markets again. The lira started the day just below the 6.5 level. There may be a correction during the day but investors may use it as a dollar buying opportunity," Sekerbank said in a daily note.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced that the number of deaths from the coronavirus in Turkey jumped by 23 to 131 on Sunday, as confirmed cases leapt by 1,815 to 9,217.

In the latest measures to curb the spread of the virus, Turkey halted inter-city trains and limited domestic flights on Saturday.

Pegasus Airlines shares tumbled 8.57pc and Turkish Airlines was down 2.26pc.

The main BIST 100 share index was flat, having dropped 3.72pc on Friday.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year bond rose to 13.50pc on Monday from 13.08pc on Friday.

President Tayyip Erdogan called on Friday for a "voluntary quarantine" in which Turks stay at home except for shopping or basic needs to help contain the outbreak.

Three state banks, Ziraat, Vakif and Halkbank, started a loan system for families with a monthly income of less than 5,000 lira ($760). The loans would be up to 10,000 lira, with a 36-month maturity and six-month grace period.

Data from the BDDK banking watchdog on Monday showed banks' profit stood at 15.13 billion lira in the first two months of the year, up 133pc from a year earlier, the data showed.

The banking index was up 0.6pc, with Halkbank 1.2pc higher and Vakifbank up 0.7pc.

Turkey has also grounded all international flights and passengers are required to obtain the approval of their local governor's office to travel between provinces.

Despite the coronavirus impact, Turkey's central bank expects high first-quarter growth thanks to a strong January and February, deputy governor Oguzhan Ozbas was quoted as saying by state-owned Anadolu news agency on Sunday.