ECONOMY

Turk markets unruffled

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkish investors remained bullish yesterday despite French and Dutch votes against a European Union Constitution, after markets largely priced in the rejection, traders said. The referendums’ failure has prompted fears of a political crisis in Europe that could delay further expansion, including that of Muslim Turkey, due to begin entry talks in October. But Turkish markets largely shrugged off the negative votes, despite losses in the weeks before the referendum. «The rejection of the EU Constitution is not positive for Turkish prospects for EU membership, but it it is in no way a disaster. Turkish fundamentals continue to improve,» said Lars Christensen, senior analyst at Danske Bank in Copenhagen. The bond, forex and stock markets were all bolstered by the news the Treasury had mandated Lehman Brothers and JP Morgan to lead a 15-year dollar-denominated eurobond issue amid a rally in the country’s sovereign debt. The lira finished at 1.3475 against the dollar on the interbank market from a previous 1.3650, but firmed to 1.3420 in Friday-dated trade after the Treasury announcement. Benchmark January 24 2007 bonds yielded 16.11 percent, down from 16.49 percent on Wednesday and stood at 15.96 percent in Friday-dated trade. «The strong appreciation of the lira has been somewhat surprising. The rally naturally raises the question of whether we could see a setback,» Christensen also cautioned. While he did not rule out short-term profit-taking, especially if US T-bills regain momentum, Christensen said recent political and market developments in Turkey kept lira and fixed-income assets attractive. The lira has lost 0.54 percent of its value against the dollar and gained 10.62 percent against the euro since end-2004. Meanwhile, the main share index rose 2.25 percent to close at 25,799.12 points, with volume rising 32 percent from a day earlier to 732.79 million new lira. «A lot of investors postponed purchasing (Turkish assets) because they were worried about the referendums. After the referendums, these concerns have ended, the expected buying has boosted markets,» said Ismail Erdem of Finansinvest.