Turkish economy returns to growth

Reuters . Istanbul | Published: 00:00, Dec 03,2019


Turkey’s economy grew 0.9 per cent year-on-year in the third quarter, breaking three consecutive quarters of contraction as it shook off a recession which followed last year’s currency crisis.

Turkey has a track record of 5 per cent growth, but a 30 per cent slide in the lira last year pushed up inflation and interest rates, while domestic demand tumbled. The central bank has since slashed rates to revive activity.

Monday’s data was in line with a Reuters poll which forecast 1 per cent year-on-year expansion in the third quarter. The poll also predicted that the economy will grow 0.5 per cent in 2019 as a whole.

The government has forecast 5 per cent growth next year, and finance minister Berat Albayrak wrote on Twitter that leading indicators for the fourth quarter showed growth momentum was continuing to increase.

But economists say achieving the government’s target could prove difficult.

‘The key issue for me is that there is still not that much confidence among households and corporates,’ said Piotr Matys, emerging markets forex strategist at Rabobank.

He said authorities needed to make significant progress on economic reforms to restore confidence amongst investors and locals, with efforts so far having focused mainly on short-term solutions.

The third quarter growth was driven by the agricultural sector which expanded 3.8 per cent, while industry grew 1.6 per cent and services grew 0.6 per cent. However, the construction sector, which underpinned years of strong economic growth in Turkey, shrank 7.8 per cent, the Turkish Statistical Institute data (TUIK) said.

The lira was at 5.7550 against the dollar after the data, weakening from 5.74 beforehand.

Compared to the second quarter, gross domestic product expanded by a seasonally and calendar-adjusted 0.4 per cent, its third positive quarter-on-quarter reading in a row, TUIK data showed.

QNB Finansbank said in a note that private consumption was the major driver of growth quarter-on-quarter, but its contribution had weakened.

TUIK said exports increased 5.1 per cent year-on-year in the quarter, while imports grew 7.6 per cent.

As the economy has recovered, inflation tumbled to single digits in October due to base effects, and loan growth picked up thanks to central bank rate cuts. In the second quarter, the economy shrank a revised 1.6 per cent year-on-year.

In late October, the central bank slashed its policy rate more than expected to 14 per cent, continuing an aggressive bout of cuts from 24 per cent since July to help revive the recession-hit economy.

The central bank governor subsequently said the bank had used a significant part of its leeway for loosening monetary policy. Last week, he said the bank will use required reserves to support real sector access to loans and loan growth.

The government’s own sharply lowered forecast for the year envisages growth at 0.5 per cent in 2019, and 5 per cent in 2020.

QNB Finansbank said it revised its 2019 growth forecast to 0.6 per cent from 0.8 per cent after the data, and saw year-on-year growth for Q4 as likely to be above 4 per cent.

A business survey on Monday showed Turkish manufacturing activity contracted in November as new orders slowed although output picked up. The Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for manufacturing rose to 49.5 from 49.0 in October, said the Istanbul Chamber of Industry and IHS Markit.

‘The economic confidence index and its components suggest a broad-based recovery in economic activity in Q4,’ the QNB Finansbank note said.

Trade data on Monday showed exports were flat in November, with imports jumping 9.2 per cent, resulting in a tripling of the trade deficit to $2.15 billion.

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