Emerging markets rallied Monday as Russia's central bank vowed to defend the beleaguered national currency from further depreciating against the U.S. dollar. Bank of Russia Governor Elvira Nabiullina's comments regarding the central bank's interventionist policies Monday signal a new urgency in the tone coming out of the bank. Nabiullina's words sparked a rally which brought the Ruble up 2.5 percent against the dollar late Monday, it had been up over 3 percent at midday. Russia is currently the seventh largest export market for Turkey, making its economic strength of particular importance to Turkey.
With the turnaround, albeit a temporary one in my opinion, in the direction of the ruble, emerging markets rallied. Of particular note, insurance against economic and political instability in Turkey, or credit-default swaps (CDSs) rallied, up over two percent on the day. CDSs traded at 1.76 percent Monday, down over 15 percent since mid-October where they had traded over 2.03 percent. Currently the spread between Turkish corporate debt insurance and that of eurozone country Portugal is near 35 basis points, making insuring Portuguese debt far more expensive than insuring Turkish debt. The implicit guarantee of the European Central Bank to bailout any failed Portuguese bank is apparently not enough not to sway investors away from the eurozone country.
Turkish government debt also rallied Monday as both the two-year benchmark issue and the long-end 10-year issue traded higher near the close of trade. The two-year government bond's yield was down over 15 basis points since Friday to 8.33 percent while the 10-year's yield was down over 20 basis points to 8.55 percent. Continued malaise in the eurozone continues to move investors toward greener pastures and Turkey, despite regional armed conflict, appears to be one of the new homes of these investors.
The benchmark BIST-100 equity index was up modestly to 78,408 points, up over 0.5 percent on the day. The BIST-100 was down over 2,000 points last week on profit-taking however it started off the week in the green in the hopes of making up for last week's losses.
The Turkish lira also traded higher against the U.S. dollar on Monday, up TL 0.01 after a week in which it was down over TL 0.04 against the dollar at its peak, closing off the week down TL 0.03. Continued strength in the ruble-lira cross will benefit Turkish exporters and therefore look for an uptick in the ruble to translate into positive news for Turkish equities and bonds.
The Central Registry Agency's (MKK) foreign participation in the Turkish equity markets index was flat for the week, coming in at 63.46 percent on Friday. It had been 63.51 percent the previous week.
On Friday the Treasury Ministry reported a cash balance deficit of TL 4.92 ($2.19 billion) for the month, bringing the year-to-date total deficit to a little over TL 14 billion. The ministry went on to point out that the foreign-exchange linked debt for the government had shrunk from over 58 percent at the time current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan became prime minister to a rate of 32 percent in September.
The foreign-exchange linked debt figure is important as foreign-exchange linked debt leaves a country vulnerable to foreign-exchange volatility and any unexpected loss in the value of its domestic currency would lead to an increase in the overall debt level. With this decrease in foreign-exchange linked debt, Turkey has also been able to drastically decrease the percentage of the government budget being paid to service its outstanding debt. Look for the win in the U.S. Senate by the Republicans to push President Barak Obama to do more in confronting the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and Bashar Assad. I predict the Republican Congress will give Obama the resources necessary to increase the fight against both forces and that both Assad and ISIS will either be eradicated by the end of Obama's term in 2016 or severely crippled. This will be good news for Turkey as it may lead to a return of many Syrian refugees to their country and increased trade between the two neighbors. I also predict that a deal will be struck shortly with Iran, leading to the lifting of many of the sanctions imposed on Iran for advancing its nuclear energy ambitions. Both of these developments will be good for Turkish markets.