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Asia: Shares, euro extend slide as Turkish lira plunges to new low

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[SYDNEY] Asia share markets skidded and the euro hit one-year lows on Monday as a renewed rout in the Turkish lira drove demand for safe harbours, including the US dollar, Swiss franc and yen.

Japan's Nikkei lost 1.3 per cent and MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 1.1 per cent as bourses across the region turned red.

EMini futures for the S&P 500 were off 0.33 per cent, while 10-year Treasury yields dipped further to 2.85 per cent .

China's blue chip index shed 1.2 per cent, while Hong Kong stocks lost 1.4 per cent as the local dollar fell to the limits of its trading band.

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Much of the early action was in currencies with the euro gapping lower as the Turkish lira took another slide to all-time lows around 7.2400 at one stage.

The lira found just a sliver of support when Turkish Finance Minister Berat Albayrak said the country had drafted an action plan to ease investor concerns and the banking watchdog said it limited swap transactions.

Yet the US dollar was still up almost 10 per cent on the day at 6.9993 lira. This time last month it was at 4.8450.

The currency tumbled on worries over Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan's increasing control over the economy and deteriorating relations with the United States.

"The plunge in the lira which began in May now looks certain to push the Turkish economy into recession and it may well trigger a banking crisis," said Andrew Kenningham, chief global economist at Capital Economics.

"This would be another blow for EMs as an asset class, but the wider economic spillovers should be fairly modest, even for the euro zone," he added.

Mr Kenningham noted Turkey's annual gross domestic product of around US$900 billion was just 1 per cent of the global economy and slightly smaller than the Netherlands.

The Turkish equity market was less than 2 per cent of the size of the UK market, and only 20 per cent was held by non-residents, he added.

"Nonetheless, Turkey's troubles are a further headwind for the euro and are not good news for EM assets either."

BANKS EXPOSED

Indeed, the single currency sank to a one-year trough against the Swiss franc in early trade around 1.1300 francs, while hitting a 10-week low on the yen around 125.45 .

Against the US dollar, the euro touched its lowest since July 2017 at US$1.13700. It was last at US$1.1392 and still a long way from last week's top at US$1.1628.

The dollar eased against the safe haven yen to 110.40, but was a shade firmer against a basket of currencies at 96.470.

The Argentine peso and South African rand were also caught in the crossfire.

"Contagion risks centre on Spanish, Italian and French banks exposed to Turkish foreign currency debt, as well as Argentina and South Africa," warned analysts at ANZ.

"Turkey's massive pile of corporate debt denominated in foreign currencies, but a rapidly sliding currency – and inflation that's threatening to go exponential – is a toxic combination."

In commodity markets, gold had found little in the way of safety flows and was last down at US$1,209.15 an ounce .

Oil prices were mixed with Brent off 8 cents at US$72.73 a barrel, while US crude added 5 cents to US$67.68.

REUTERS

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