Turkey’s central bank (CB) will continue with controlled monetary tightening to lower inflation to its 5 per cent target, Governor Erdem Basci said on Wednesday, undermining expectations of a cut in at least one of its main rates.
Basci also said at a conference that the bank will do whatever necessary to lower inflation but will not harm the banking sector in doing so. Turkish annual inflation is currently running at more than 10 per cent.
The tone of his comments contrasted starkly with last week, when he told a conference in the regional city of Adana that the bank could narrow the interest rate corridor if necessary -read by markets as a pointer to looser policy.
“After these comments, especially controlled monetary tightening, talk may start in the market on whether the central bank may not lower interest rates,” said Gizem Oztok Altinsac, an economist at Garanti Securities.
“This is supporting the lira. We are maintaining our 50 basis point rate cut expectation,” said Altinsac.
The lira strengthened to 1.8102 versus the dollar after Basci’s comments from 1.8150 beforehand.
Against its euro-dollar basket, the lira traded unchanged at 2.1116 in early on Wednesday trade, after touching its weakest level on Tuesday since mid-January of 2.1177.
The bank is torn between the need to defend the lira and hold down inflation by keeping market funding tight, and supporting the economy with stimulus as growth slows from double digit rates seen at the start of last year.
In a move that supported the lira, officials cut total funding in one-week and one-month repo auctions to 45 billion lira last on Friday from 51 billion in early March.
But the currency was weakened by Basci’s suggestion last week that the bank could narrow the interest rate corridor, the gap between its overnight lending and borrowing rates, as it expects inflation to fall to single digits by May while growth will almost come to a halt.
Bank officials gave no signal of moves to support the lira during a meeting with economists on Tuesday although they did say it would closely monitor oil prices, analysts said.