ISTANBUL (Reuters) – The Turkish lira <TRYTOM=D3> began the year on weaker footing on Thursday after shedding 11% in 2019, a year in which the currency steadied somewhat following a full-blown crisis in 2018.
The lira traded at 5.9570 against the U.S. dollar at 0941 GMT from a close of 5.9495 on Tuesday. It was almost flat against the euro at 6.6550 <EURTRY=>.
Turkey’s bluechip Borsa Istanbul BIST100 index <.XU100> was up 0.79%, after rising more than 25% last year as the economy emerged from recession.
Last year’s lira slide was mainly due to concerns over Ankara’s tense relations with Washington over policy disagreements in Syria, and looming U.S. sanctions over Turkey’s purchase of Russian S-400 missile defense systems.
Among peer emerging market currencies, the lira’s poor performance in 2019 was second only to the Argentine peso, which lost some 37% of its value against dollar.
In 2018, when Turkey’s economy slid into recession, the lira shed 28%. At its worst point that year its value halved against the dollar, sending inflation soaring briefly to a 15-year high.
Investor doubts over the central bank’s independence have also weighed on Turkey’s currency, which after a volatile first half of 2019 steadied somewhat in the second half, even as the bank began a sharp monetary easing cycle.
Market attention was now focused on December inflation data set to be released on Friday at 0700 GMT. Annual inflation is expected to rise to 11.56%, a Reuters poll showed.
Turkish manufacturing activity contracted slightly for a third straight month in December, although output rose for a second month and factories expanded their purchasing in response, the PMI survey showed on Thursday.
(Writing by Ezgi Erkoyun; Editing by Jonathan Spicer)