Turkish central bank seen cutting rates 150 points to 12.5%

Reuters | Dec 6, 2019 at 1:07 PM

* reuters://realtime/verb=Open/url=cpurl://apps.cp./Apps/cb-polls?RIC=TRINT%3DECI for poll data

* Median forecast for policy rate at 12.5%

* Inflation stood at 10.56% in Nov

ISTANBUL, Dec 6 (Reuters) - Turkey's central bank is expected to cut its key interest rate to 12.5% from 14% next week, a Reuters poll showed on Friday, sustaining an easing cycle designed to revive the economy and bringing real rates below levels in most emerging markets.

The central bank has cut rates three times since July, when the policy rate stood at 24% following a currency crisis which knocked nearly a third off the value of the lira last year and pushed Turkey into recession.

After peaking at more than 25% in October last year, inflation has since slowed substantially and stood at 10.56% in November, near its three-year lows, reinforcing expectations for a sizeable policy rate cut at next week's policy meeting.

In a Reuters poll of 20 economists, the median estimate was for a 150-basis point interest rate cut to 12.50%. Estimates ranged between 12% and 13%.

"We think the policy rate easing will continue. However, since a large amount of the room for monetary policy easing has been used up with front-loaded rate cuts, the pace will decline," said Deniz Cicek, an economist at QNB Finansbank.

The central bank says it sets its monetary stance to leave a "reasonable" real rate. Turkey's current real interest rate stood at 3.44% while average real rate in peer emerging market economies is calculated at 2.88%.

The central bank and economists polled by Reuters expect inflation to stand at 12% at end-2019 while Turkish Finance Minister Berat Albayrak said it may end up lower than that.

"We think the central bank would have a very limited space for further rate cuts in the early months of 2020, judging by the outlook on headline consumer inflation," said Irem Sagiroglu, an economist at CEEMarketWatch.

Sagiroglu, who forecast a 150 bps rate cut, said the central bank would pursue a wait-and-see stance regarding the rate policy in the next couple of months, adding that given the limited space for easing it might use other tools to support GDP growth.

The bank increased the number of its monetary policy committee (MPC) meetings to 12 next year which would allow them to give prompt response to market changes, economists say.