- The lira was up some 0.3pc to 6.6840 against the dollar by 0812 GMT, from Wednesday's close of 6.7040.
- The trade deficit stood at $5.28 billion in March, according to the special trade system, rising 143.8pc year-on-year.
- Turkish auto sales rose by 1.6pc year-on-year in March, data from the Automotive Distributors Association showed, while they increased by 40.62pc in the first three months of the year.
ISTANBUL: Turkey's lira firmed slightly on Thursday trading near levels last touched during the height of a 2018, currency crisis, as fallout from the spread of the coronavirus weighed on trade and the government warned of new containment measures.
Other data showed that the central bank had stepped up efforts to backstop government debt markets, and automobile sales edged up last month before what is expected to be a significant decline through mid-year.
The lira was up some 0.3pc to 6.6840 against the dollar by 0812 GMT, from Wednesday's close of 6.7040. It hit 6.7120 in early trade, its weakest level since Sept. 2018.
Data from the trade ministry showed Turkey's exports had dropped 17.99pc in March, reflecting the fallout from the pandemic among Ankara's biggest partners, especially in Europe.
The trade deficit stood at $5.28 billion in March, according to the special trade system, rising 143.8pc year-on-year.
Turkey could step up measures to contain the coronavirus outbreak that has infected 15,679 and killed 277. Doctors and opposition politicians have warned of strains on hospitals and called for a broad stay-at-home order.
Turkish auto sales rose by 1.6pc year-on-year in March, data from the Automotive Distributors Association showed, while they increased by 40.62pc in the first three months of the year.
Under a more aggressive stimulus policy, the central bank is buying roughly 4 billion lira ($600 million) worth of bonds this week from dealers, including a portion held by the Unemployment Insurance Fund that the government will tap to support workers during the pandemic.
Bankers say the weekly purchases will likely continue at this pace and could ramp up further to backstop Ankara's borrowing needs. The government has said it will spend $15 billion to support the economy.
BIG Q2 CONTRACTION
More than 2 million Turks have applied to a system that tops up pay for workers whose hours are cut short, Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy said, adding seasonal tourism workers would also be able to benefit.
The lira has fallen about 11pc this year and remains vulnerable after the 2018 crisis briefly halved its value and tipped the economy into a recession that ended last year.
Economists say Turkey could enter another brief recession through mid-2020 as the fallout from the pandemic cripples trade, tourism and domestic demand.
Robin Brooks, managing director at the Institute of International Finance, said the lira could slip to as weak as 7 versus the dollar as second quarter economic growth contracts by up to 10pc measured quarterly, or up to 40pc annually.
"The stimulus won't generate growth. It's only damage control," he told an American-Turkish Conference panel.
Investors are analysing medical preparedness in emerging markets like Turkey, which is somewhat vulnerable due to its relatively high external financing needs, Brooks said.