Turkish lira extends six-month high on bets monetary policy to stay tight

Turkey’s lira rose against the dollar on Tuesday, extending its strongest level since early August, on expectation among investors that the central bank will keep monetary policy tight to rein in double-digit inflation.

The lira advanced 0.6 percent to 6.91 per dollar at 10:25 a.m. local time, taking gains to almost 20 percent since a November record low of 8.58 per dollar.

Turkey’s monetary policymakers will meet on interest rates on Thursday. Fifteen of 21 economists surveyed by the state-run Anadolu news agency expect the central bank to keep rates steady at 17 percent, while the remainder forecast a hike.

The lira is benefitting from a rally in emerging market currencies on the back of a global rollout of COVID-19 vaccines. Central bank governor Naci Ağbal has hiked the benchmark interest rate from 10.25 percent since his appointment on Nov. 7 and is pledging to keep borrowing costs for banks elevated throughout the year.

Annual inflation of 15 percent may move higher until April, meaning monetary policymakers could hike rates again in the case of upside surprises, Dutch bank ING said in a report on Monday. Still, the central bank is offering real interest rates of 2 percent, the highest among major emerging market peers, and its next move will probably be a rate cut late in the year, ING said.