White House says Turkey treated pastor 'badly'

Jermaine Castillo
August 17, 2018

"The pressure has been relieved, but not released, on the Turkish lira as traders tire of selling after the currency seems to have found a base", said Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at AxiTrader.

The strength of the us currency was compounded by the euro's fall, which has been dogged by potential risks to European banks from the financial turmoil in Turkey.

Asian stocks retreated on Wednesday, failing to follow Wall Street's gains, while the dollar was near a 13-month high as concerns about Turkey's financial crisis weighed on investor appetite despite the lira's move away from an all-time low.

The dispute is one of several between the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies, including diverging interests in Syria and USA objections to Ankara's ambition to buy Russian defence systems, that have contributed to instability in Turkish financial markets.

Yesterday, the lira recovered some ground, trading at 6.53 to the dollar, up around 5 per cent on the day.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan slid more than 1 per cent to its lowest since August 2017, after bouncing 0.4 per cent the previous day when the Turkish lira showed signs of stabilising.

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In an op-ed published by the New York Times on Monday, Erdogan also denounced "unilateral actions against Turkey by the United States, our ally of decades", while warning that Washington must "give up the misguided notion that our relationship can be asymmetrical and come to terms with the fact that Turkey has alternatives".

He also noted that Moscow appreciates Turkey's rejection to join the anti-Russia sanctions by the West, saying the U.S.

The White House called the Turkish response a step in the wrong direction and signalled a hard line on Brunson's release.

The White House on Monday said USA national security adviser John Bolton met Turkey's ambassador to the United States to discuss the detention of Brunson.

The United States sanctioned Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul and Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, blaming both for being involved Brunson's arrest and detention. Turkey accuses Brunson of being a spy and says he was involved in an attempted coup. Cavusoglu said ties with the bloc, long strained, were on a firmer basis and had started normalising.

The rebound to below 6.0 against the dollar was driven by a banking watchdog step to limit swap transactions and by hopes of improved European Union relations.

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The plunge in the lira has prompted capital outflows from other emerging markets that run hefty current account deficits and rely on foreign capital.

"Rates have gone up by 10 per cent".

The dollar index, which measures the USA currency against a basket of six currencies, is up almost 5 percent this year, its strongest performance for the January to mid-August period since 2015. Independent economists say Erdogan should let the central bank raise interest rates to support the currency, but he wants low rates to keep the economic growth going.

It was supported by news of a planned conference call in which the finance minister will seek to reassure investors concerned by Erdogan's control of the economy and his resistance to interest rate hikes to tackle double-digit inflation.

As a court in the western Turkish city of Izmir rejected a new appeal to free Brunson on Wednesday, spokesman Kalin said the United States needs to be respectful of the judicial procedures in Turkey. A higher court however, was scheduled to review the appeal, the agency said.

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