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Turkish lira, airlines hit as coronavirus spreads

The Turkish lira weakened 0.7% against the dollar on Monday as the number of coronavirus cases continued to surge in Turkey, and markets globally tumbled on worries over the length of a global shutdown.

Stocks were also weaker, and airline shares were hit by a drastic reduction in flights, with Pegasus Airlines halting domestic flights until April 30.

The lira stood at 6.4930 against the dollar at 0815 GMT, weakening from a close of 6.4505 on Friday. Though one of the more durable among peers, the lira has fallen 8% 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 leaped 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. The main opposition has called for a stay-at-home order.

Pegasus Airlines shares tumbled 8.2%, and Turkish Airlines was down 3.7%.

The main BIST 100 share index fell 0.4%, after dropping 3.72% on Friday.

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

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.

Reuters

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