ECONOMY

Investors look at Turkish efforts to slash spending

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkish shares eased yesterday, while the lira remained stable and bonds rose slightly as investors turned their attention to Turkey’s efforts to earn IMF cash by slashing spending. Shares on the main index in Istanbul fell 1.15 percent to 11,719.40 percent in scant volumes. Brokers said the market had now priced in an additional $10 billion in IMF loans to shore up a $19-billion crisis rescue and reform deal under which Turkey must slash spending. Investors were now focusing on action the government must take to earn the cash, brokers said. In other words, the market will now move according to the steps they take, the savings measures and the legal changes, said Toygar Sungur of Iktisat Yields on the busiest June 26, 2002 papers, reissued in a debt auction on Tuesday, traded slightly lower on the secondary debt market at 74.99 percent, although brokers said volumes were too slight to indicate direction. Yields of around 75 percent are lower than the annual compound of overnight borrowing rates of 59 percent, from which many investors fund their bond holdings. That indicates many bankers still expect the central bank to cut its overnight lending rate. Despite the fact that the cost of funding is more than bond interest rates, people are keeping their positions that they bought on the expectation of a rate cut, said one banker. Expectations of a cut have been driving bond buying for more than a week but the central bank has yet to move, perhaps for fear of fueling raging inflation further. The central bank auctioned $20 million at an average price of 1,495,443 lira to the dollar, not far off levels the currency was trading at on Thursday. Deals were struck on the central bank-brokered spot market in the afternoon at 1,489,000 lira to the dollar, a slight firming for the currency but traders said volume was very thin and not indicative. Many investors said they were holding back from taking positions and watching Parliament, which held a closed debate on the divided island of Cyprus yesterday. The status of the island is crucial to Turkey’s hopes of eventual European Union membership and the leaders of the two communities, President Glafcos Clerides and Rauf Denktash, are due to meet face-to-face on December 4 for the first time in four years as the European enlargement process adds to the urgency of finding a political solution for Cyprus. Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit has attacked the EU for its approach to Cyprus, where Turkey stations 30,000 troops to defend a breakaway Turkish-Cypriot administration. There’s a secret session of Parliament. Sales may well come from people who don’t want to take the risk over the weekend, said Sedat Ali Eratac of OB Securities. Details of the parliamentary debate are to be kept secret for 10 years, but many market participants said they expected the general tone of the session to become clear over the weekend.