ECONOMY

In Brief

Turkish lenders see 30-pct rise in profits ANKARA (Reuters) – The net profits of Turkish banks rose 30 percent year-on-year to 7.2 billion lira ($4.6 billion) in the first four months of the year, the head of the banking watchdog Tevfik Bilgin told Reuters yesterday. In the same period a year earlier, net profits amounted to 5.5 billion lira. Bilgin said in a telephone interview that the sector’s profits in the year as a whole were expected to be at least at last year’s levels. The sector’s average capital adequacy ratio rose to 19 percent at the end of April from 17 percent a year earlier, he added. «The performance of the Turkish banking sector so far has been better than we expected. It has also been better than the expectations of those watching Turkey from abroad,» Bilgin said. «Our expectation is that year-end profits will be at least as much as the level a year earlier,» he said. The figures suggest Turkey, helped by 2001 reforms that left the banking sector stronger and little exposed to US toxic assets, is performing better than many of its emerging market peers. Serbian central bank cuts interest rate Serbia’s central bank cut its benchmark interest rate for the fourth time this year, as inflation slowed and policy makers seek to fend off a recession stemming from the global financial crisis. Narodna Banka Srbije lowered the two-week repurchase rate to 13 percent from 14 percent, the first reduction since April, the Belgrade-based bank said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. The rate was at 17.75 percent on January 1 and was first slashed to 16.5 percent that month. It has since reduced the repo by at least a full percentage point. «There is room for further rate cuts, but still a serious risk from state-regulated price increases,» the statement said. (Bloomberg) Subsidies approved European Union antitrust regulators approved a Romanian scheme to subsidize loan guarantees for companies hit by tight liquidity due to the credit crisis, the European Commission said yesterday. The Commission, which monitors state aid in the 27-country European Union, said the aid was compatible with the bloc’s two-year fiscal stimulus scheme aimed at fighting the worst economic recession since World War II. The subsidized guarantees will be for investment and working capital loans contracted before the end of 2010. (Reuters) Gold imports Turkey’s gold imports fell back to zero in May, as they had in January and February, from 26 kilograms in April, figures from the Istanbul Gold Exchange showed. Bullion imports last month to Turkey – one of the top three world consumers of the metal – were sharply down on the 19,407 kg they reached in May 2008, the exchange said. Imports in the first five months of the year fell to 66 kg from nearly 53 tons in the same period a year ago, the exchange data showed. «There is no domestic demand,» said one trader at the Istanbul Gold Exchange. «It has been very low, despite the fact that the wedding season has begun. The demand for coins is also very low.» Gold coins and bracelets are traditional gifts at Turkish weddings. «The supply in the market seems to be just sufficient for the low demand at the moment,» the trader added. (Reuters)