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Turkey ETF Plunges on Weakening Confidence in Lira Currency

This article was originally published on ETFTrends.com.

Turkey country-specific exchange traded fund was among the worst hit on Friday's sell-off as the broader risk-off mood coupled with the plunge in the Turkish lira currency dragged on this emerging market.

The iShares MSCI Turkey ETF (TUR) was among the worst performing non-leveraged ETFs of Friday, plunging 10.5% and breaking below its long-term support at the 200-day simple moving average.

On top of the broader risk-off selling that plagued the markets on Friday, Turkey's market was dragged down by an ongoing rout in the wake of an unexplained drop in official reserves, despite the Turkish central bank's surprise tightening to stem the fall.

The lira currency briefly pared losses after the central bank announced steps to push lenders towards more expensive overnight borrowing facility, but the market quickly lost steam amid mounting speculation the falling reserves means the central banks is using its holdings to support the currency before elections on March 31, Bloomberg reports.

Turkish Currency Plunges

The Turkish currency plunged 6.1% against the greenback to TRY5.821 on Friday.

“Today’s move is about buying time” Timothy Ash, a strategist at BlueBay Asset Management, told Bloomberg. The central bank needs “to show the market by tightening in a more permanent way. This could be the last chance for the current central bank management to prove themselves.”

The uncertainty over the direction that policy will take after the municipal vote for the end of the Month has dragged lira down over the past three months to more than 6%. Additionally, the risk of increased political risk with the U.S. associated to Turkey's plans to acquire a missiles system from Russia add to market concerns.

The selling was also exacerbated by signs that local investors are shifting to foreign currencies amid inflationary pressures deteriorating their lira savings. For the week ended March 15, Turkish households and companies shifted into $4 billion dollars of hard currency, the most since 2012, pushing their holdings to $175.8 billion, a new record as well.

For more information on the Turkish markets, visit our Turkey category.