Turkish lira briefly touches 17-month low on Syria concerns, coronavirus

Turkey’s lira briefly dipped to its weakest level in 17 months on Monday as investor concerns persisted over the coronavirus and the conflict in Syria.

The lira dropped to as low as 6.26 per dollar in thin Asia trading. It later recovered to trade up 0.2 percent at 6.22 against the U.S. currency as of midday local time in Istanbul.

Turkey’s lira weakened after 34 Turkish troops died in neighbouring Syria on Thursday fighting forces loyal to President Bashar Assad. Turkey struck back, hitting scores of Syrian military targets. The clashes prompted an emergency phone call on Friday between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, who supports the government in Damascus.

Erdoğan’s government has since opened Turkey’s western borders for refugees heading to Europe in a move that threatens to further sour political relations with Greece and the European Union. Erdoğan says European countries have not done enough to help peg back Assad’s rampaging army and to provide shelter for millions of people who have fled the civil war.

Gains for the lira on Monday lagged those for other emerging market currencies in Europe. The Polish zloty rose 0.5 percent to 3.9 per dollar. The Czech koruna climbed 0.4 percent to 22.99 against the U.S. currency.

Turkey’s main BIST 100 index of shares increased 2.8 percent to 108,910 points, partially reversing losses of 4 percent on Friday.