Turkey keeps main interest rate unchanged

At one point during a US-Turkey row last year, the Turkish lira traded to lows of around seven against the dollar. Above, a woman passes next to a board displaying US dollar and euro exchange rates in Turkish lira, in Istanbul. (AFP)
Updated 16 January 2019
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Turkey keeps main interest rate unchanged

  • The Turkish lira, which has been trading at more than 5.5 against the dollar, gained over one percent to 5.3 after the announcement that the main interest rate would remain unchanged
  • Turkey’s central bank said its policy committee ‘decided to maintain the tight monetary policy stance until the inflation outlook displays a significant improvement’

ANKARA: Turkey kept its main interest rate unchanged for a third time since a dramatic hike in September, in line with market expectations and helping the lira rally against the dollar.

The central bank said in a statement on its website that the one-week repo rate would remain at 24 percent. Inflation in Turkey remains in double-digits.

The Turkish lira, which has been trading at more than 5.5 against the dollar in the past couple of weeks, gained over one percent to 5.3 after the announcement.

The consensus had been for the rate to stay at 24 percent amid fears a cut would cause further weakness in the lira.

The bank said its policy committee “decided to maintain the tight monetary policy stance until the inflation outlook displays a significant improvement.”

It added that “if needed, further monetary tightening will be delivered.”

Consumer price inflation hit 25.24 percent in October, the highest level since 2003, before falling to 20.3 percent in December.

Turkey suffered a currency crisis in August during a diplomatic spat with the United States over the detention of an American pastor, later released, as well as concerns over domestic monetary policy under Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Erdogan has railed against high interest rates, describing them as the “mother and father of all evil.”

At one point during the US-Turkey row, the lira traded to lows around seven against the dollar.

But after the lira’s dramatic fall in the summer, the bank made an aggressive rate hike in September of 625 basis points (6.25 percentage points) to 24 percent.

Economists including Inan Demir of Nomura expected the central bank to keep the rate constant but London-based Capital Economics had warned of a potential 50 bps cut.

Demir said before the announcement the case for a cut had been “weakened” by fresh US-Turkey tensions over a Washington-backed Syrian Kurdish militia Ankara views as terrorists.

Although the dispute has since eased, US President Donald Trump on Sunday warned Washington would “devastate Turkey economically” if Ankara attacked the Kurdish People’s Protection Units militia (YPG) in Syria.


India suspends Kashmir border trade with Pakistan

Updated 19 April 2019
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India suspends Kashmir border trade with Pakistan

  • Kashmir has been on edge since a February suicide attack that killed 40 Indian paramilitaries
  • India said it had reports that trade on the border was being “misused by Pakistan-based elements for funnelling illegal weapons, narcotics and fake currency”

NEW DELHI: India has suspended trade across its disputed Kashmir border with Pakistan, alleging that weapons and drugs are being smuggled across the route, as tensions simmer between the nuclear-armed neighbors.
Kashmir has been on edge since a February suicide attack that killed 40 Indian paramilitaries and brought the two countries to the brink of war with cross-border air strikes.
On Thursday, India’s government, which is in the middle of a tough national election, said it had reports that trade on the border was being “misused by Pakistan-based elements for funnelling illegal weapons, narcotics and fake currency.”
It also said many of those trading across the Line of Control, which divides Kashmir into zones under Indian and Pakistani control, had links to militant organizations.
The home ministry said trade would be suspended until a stricter inspection mechanism is in place.
The cross-border trade is based on a barter system, with traders exchanging goods including chillies, cumin, mango and dried fruit.
It began in 2008 as a way to improve strained relations between New Delhi and Islamabad, who have fought two of their three wars over the disputed region.
The Indian Express newspaper said Friday that 35 trucks carrying fruit traveling from the Indian side of the border had been stopped after the government order.
Trade on the border has been suspended before, including in 2015, when India accused a Pakistani driver of drug trafficking.
The latest move comes after India withdrew “Most Favoured Nation Status” — covering trade links — from Pakistan after the February attack, which was claimed by the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed Islamist group.
Islamabad has denied any involvement in the attack.
India’s Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made national security a key plank of his re-election campaign, pointing to the recent flare-up of violence as he battles the center-left opposition Congress party.
He is seeking a second term from the country’s 900 million voters in the mammoth election which kicked off on April 11 and runs till May 19. The results will be out on May 23.