ECONOMY

Turkish stocks 5.31 pct lower

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkish shares closed more than 5 percent lower yesterday due to worries that a tender to sell state tobacco producer Tekel may be canceled after bids fell short of expectations. The ISE National-100 index closed 5.31 percent lower at 15,536.77, off an intraday low of 15,409.56. The lira weakened on the interbank market to end at 1,490,000 to the dollar, compared with a close of 1,474,000 on Tuesday. Yields on the busy August 18, 2004 debt rose to 31.69 percent from 30.16 percent on Wednesday. Japan Tobacco Inc made the highest bid for Tekel’s tobacco operations, offering $1.15 billion. The sell-off had been forecast to raise up to $3 billion for Turkey as it struggles to find revenues under tight budgetary constraints agreed to with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) under a $16 billion pact. Brokers said the market was now looking nervously at the tender for state oil refiner Tupras, one of the Istanbul Stock Exchange’s largest firms and the dominant player in Turkey’s oil-refining sector. «From now on, the market will await the results of the Tupras tender. If they are positive, the market will take heart,» said fund manager Bilal Balci of Tacirler Securities. «The (share) index will try tomorrow to stay above the 15,500 level. Reaction buying could kick in at 15,700,» he said. Brokers said the market was also awaiting the IMF executive board meeting scheduled for late November, which is expected to approve the next loan tranche to Turkey worth $500 million.