October 2, 2018 / 9:01 AM / in 17 days

Turkey's lira weakens, investors eye September inflation data

ISTANBUL, Oct 2 (Reuters) - Turkey’s lira weakened more than one percent on Tuesday as investors turned their attention to Wednesday’s September inflation data and with negative sentiment in emerging markets exerting pressure on the currency.

The lira has lost some 37 percent of its value against the dollar this year on concerns over the central bank’s ability to rein in double-digit inflation and with President Tayyip Erdogan calling for lower interest rates to boost borrowing.

The lira weakened to 6.0404 against the dollar by 0853 GMT from Monday’s close of 5.9410. It firmed as far as 5.91 on Monday, its strongest in more than a month and a half.

“There is a negative mood in emerging market currencies this morning generally. We see the dollar index is a bit higher and parallel to this, the lira has lost value,” a forex trader said.

Consumer prices surged 2.3 percent month-on-month in August, for an annual increase of 17.9 percent. That was its highest level since the end of 2003.

Inflation is expected to rise more in September. A Reuters poll of 15 economists forecast monthly inflation of 3.6 percent, with estimates ranging from 2.66 to 4 percent.

“It is fairly obvious that inflation is going to accelerate in September, the question is by how much,” said Piotr Matys, emerging market forex strategist at Rabobank.

“Unless we witness a major shocker because of the inflation data, I think that the downside bias in dollar-lira should prevail over the shorter horizon.”

The currency has been hit recently by a diplomatic row between Ankara and Washington over the trial on terrorism charges of evangelical pastor Andrew Brunson in Turkey.

The row helped send the lira to a record low of 7.24 against the dollar in August. It has recovered partially after a 625 basis point rate hike by the central bank, the government’s new economic programme and hopes of a thaw in U.S. relations.

Investors say a court hearing in the Brunson trial on Oct. 12 and its decision on whether to release him from house arrest will be crucial for the lira. (Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen; Editing by Daren Butler)

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