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ISTANBUL, March 23 (Reuters) – The Turkish lira weakened 0.8% on Monday to its lowest level since early September 2018 as a surge in coronavirus cases at home put the currency on track for a sixth slide in the last eight trading days.
The lira stood at 6.5990 against the dollar by 1036 GMT, weakening from Friday’s close of 6.5480. It has now lost 10% of its value so far this year, nearly matching the slide in a volatile 2019.
A currency crisis which peaked in August 2018 pushed the Turkish economy into recession, but it recovered strongly in the latter part of last year. In total the lira lost 36% of its value in the previous two years.
Turkey’s death toll from the coronavirus reached 30 with 1,236 confirmed cases as of Sunday. Ankara has suspended flights to some 70 countries, closed schools, cafes and bars, banned mass prayers and postponed sports matches and events.
Lenders including Ziraat Bank, Vakifbank, Halkbank and Isbank announced some flexible loan payment options and some offered possible restructuring for corporate debt especially hardly hit sectors of tourism and transportation.
Istanbul’s main share index was down 2.32, while the banking index fell 6.4%.
Turkish Airlines shares fell 2.6% after its top executives said on Sunday that 85% of its passenger planes were not being used.
The airline – which says it flies to more destinations than any other carrier – said it will halt all its international flights as of March 27 except those to Hong Kong, Moscow, Addis Ababa, New York and Washington.
The consumer confidence index rose to 58.2 points in March, while foreign arrivals for February rose by 3.8%, official data showed. , (Reporting by Ezgi Erkoyun and Daren Butler; Editing by Jonathan Spicer)
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