Heading into the market close in Europe, and investors have taken fright at the Turkish problems, with worries about contagion uppermost in their minds. David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets UK, says:
European stock markets have been rocked by the plunge in the Turkish lira. The European Central Bank (ECB) warned that a number of eurozone banks might be exposed to the sharp decline in the Turkish lira.
A number of Spanish, French and Italian banks are connected to Turkey in the form of foreign denominated loans, and if the Turkish borrowers haven’t hedged their exposure it might spark defaults. Should European banks incur write-downs on account of the Turkish currency crisis, investment sentiment is likely to be weak. Many financial institutions in Europe have their own non-performing loans to contend with, and they could be facing a similar situation in Turkey.
Reuters’ Jamie McGeever has put today’s fall in the Turkish lira into context:
Turkish lira having one of the biggest one-day falls of any free-floating currency in over 20 years. Now down 14%, but was off as much as 20% earlier today. For comparison: Indonesian rupiah -15% on 6 May, 1998 S African rand -15% on 15 Oct, 2008 UK pound -8% on 24 June, 2016
Here’s Bloomberg’s energy editor on Turkish steel exports, which will now be hit by the new Trump tariffs:
Erdogan is now repeating his previous pleas to buy lira:
Erdogan again calling on Turkish citizen to buy Lira and sell foreign currencies…
ERDOGAN: TURKEY ECONOMY TO GROW AT RECORD LEVEL IN 2018 (just not in US dollar terms)
The situation for Turkey looks bleak and it is entirely of its own making, says Jan Dehn, head of research at investment manager Ashmore Group:
The situation unfolding in Turkey is fluid, but essentially unsurprising. Any emerging market investor who has done even a modicum of due diligence will be aware of the monetary policy problems Turkey has been running for years. President Erdogan’s consistent pressure on the central bank to keep interest rates low – a product of his erroneous belief that high interest rates lead to inflation – has brought Turkey’s macroeconomic situation into serious imbalance, hence placing the country in a vulnerable position. The chickens have now come home to roost.
US President Donald Trump has, in typical fashion, wasted no time in exploiting a minor diplomatic spat over an American pastor jailed in Turkey to add insult to Turkey’s largely self-inflicted injuries by slapping tariffs on Turkey – which will further exacerbate today’s slide.
Earlier Turkey’s finance minister – and Erdogan’s son-in-law had also tried to ease fears about the country’s economy, including concerns about the central bank’s independence. Associated Press reports:
In a bid to ease investor concerns about Turkey’s economic policy, the country’s finance minister says the government will safeguard the independence of the central bank.
Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak on Friday also vowed sustainable and healthy economic growth as well as “strong struggle” against inflation, which currently stands at close to 16 percent.
Before his second speech and after Donald Trump’s speech, Erdogan was reportedly in contact with Russia:
BREAKING: Turkey says President Erdogan has held phone call with Russia’s Putin to discuss economic ties amid market turmoil.
Erdogan is practically goading the market into an 8 handle next week t.co/2Al06JaWBW
Turkish president Erdogan is making a second speech at the moment.
#Erdogan 2nd speech of the day…will he say anything to steady investor’s nerves? This as the Lira continues to plummet & contagion ramps up in Europe pic.twitter.com/waNliQcdsf
Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at Markets.com, also sees echoes of the Greek troubles:
If you’re looking for a black swan event, this could be it, although we must stress that so the panic is very much confined to Turkey. Nevertheless, ghosts of Greece are still vivid in the memory for European investors and today is the first sign that the problem with Turkey’s larger dollar debts is no longer confined to its borders.
Three summers ago, Greece was forced to impose capital controls to prevent a run on its banks, as its future in the eurozone hung in the balance.
Gavin Friend, senior market strategist at National Australia Bank, believes Turkey could soon be forced into similar measures:
“Though hiking rates would be the market’s preferred option for Turkey to stem this crisis and help deal with inflation this seems unlikely given what we heard from President Erdogan today.
If we assume IMF assistance is out of the question from both sides, that leaves capital controls. That is problematic given Turkey’s need for foreign inflows – but of course they won’t be coming for now and stemming the flow the other way is the issue. This won’t help in building trust between Turkey and international investors.
Paul McNamara, investment director at asset management firm GAM, has written a fine explanation of the causes of Turkey’s economic woes:
“We think that Turkey has a toxic combination of a weak external position (current account deficit), excessive private sector debt and a high level of foreign funding in the banking system. This is coming to a head as a much-needed demand slowdown is causing asset quality problems in the banks. The role of construction in the economy for example is comparable with that in Spain or Ireland ahead of the European bust.
“We think the Turks have exhausted the possibilities of rate hikes, and are backed into a corner by their inadequate level of currency reserves (the IMF thinks that Turkey has the least adequate level of reserves of the major EM economies. The country’s politics are also a problem with the President’s son-in-law as Finance Minister and perception of political interference with the “independent” Central Bank.
Turkey’s deepening currency crisis is sending fear sweeping through the financial markets.
Turkey’s currency crisis could force president Erdogan to impose capital controls, or seek help from the International Monetary Fund, says Brad Bechtel of investment bank Jefferies:
Turkey has a handful of options including seeking an IMF program, capital controls, rate hikes, yield to American demands or do nothing and so far the only option he seems to be leaning towards is do nothing.
His stubborn stance against the US and twisted view of the IMF combined with a fear of higher interest rates make the situation untenable. The complete loss of credibility in the central bank was the final shoe to drop and spark for the latest rout we’ve seen in the currency. Until decisive action is taken, they will continue to spiral out of control.
Turkey is now suffering one of the most painful and intense currency crises in many years:
Hold on to your hats!
Turkish lira 19% down Vs USD on the day at the US open.
Lira is down 46% against the dollar in the past 52 weeks. It gets worst faster than I can update the chart. pic.twitter.com/0fcO6luOAi
The Turkish lira is plunging to new record lows following Donald Trump’s tweet.
It’s now down 18% (!!) today, at over 6.5 lira to the dollar, compared with 5.5 lira last night.
NEWSFLASH: Donald Trump has announced he’s doubling the tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminium imports, as the diplomatic row between Turkey and the US deepens.
Trump announced the move in a tweet, claiming it was in response to the lira’s recent slump.
I have just authorized a doubling of Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum with respect to Turkey as their currency, the Turkish Lira, slides rapidly downward against our very strong Dollar! Aluminum will now be 20% and Steel 50%. Our relations with Turkey are not good at this time!
Turkey’s currency crisis has deepened today, as president Erdogan attempting to calm the situation with a defiant address to the nation.
After watching the lira fall to record lows in recent days, Erdogan declared that Turkey is facing an “economic war’, which he vowed not to lose.
If there’s anyone who has dollars, gold or euros under their pillow, I am asking them to take them to the bank and exchange them for Turkish lira.
– Interest rate lobby won’t crush Turkey – Let’s retake city squares to repel economic attack – We’ll smash this plot against country – Let no one doubt our success – Take our money from under mattress and put in bank
Erdogan is asking citizens again to take their dollars and euros and convert them to liras. A visit to bank branches in Istanbul today indicated that the opposite is happening t.co/oudSCQobEZpic.twitter.com/YVMk5dHEVO
“Turkey’s macro challenges are numerous and well known – an overheating economy, a sizable external financing requirement, an outsized structural current account deficit, persistent double digit inflation, low net FX reserves and a large private sector debt burden. As a result of this, investor confidence in President Erdogan’s regime has been waning for much of the past year but key cabinet changes made after the June 24th elections have been particularly damaging for sentiment…..
“While Turkey’s fundamental challenges are numerous, there are plenty of straightforward textbook solutions which, if implemented, can halt the downward spiral of investor confidence and asset prices. An aggressive interest rate hike from the Central Bank would be a good start, something of the order of +1,000bp that Argentina delivered back in May would be appropriate at this juncture. This would help slow the economy, probably into a recession, which would help crunch the relentless demand for imports and thereby alleviate some of the current account deficit problem.
Here’s our economics correspondent Richard Partington on today’s GDP figures:
Warmer weather helped the British economy grow at a faster pace in the three months to the end of June, despite official figures revealing the manufacturing sector slumped into recession for the first time since the Brexit vote.
The Office for National Statistics said GDP increased by 0.4% in the second quarter from a rate of 0.2% in the previous three months, helped by stronger retail sales and good weather enabling the construction industry to make-up lost ground from the heavy snow earlier this year.
Philip Hammond also dropped a loud hint that the UK government could push for new taxes on online retailers:
We want to ensure that the high street remains resilient, and that we also make sure that taxation is fair between businesses doing business the traditional way, and those doing business online.
That requires us to renegotiate international tax treaties because many of the big online businesses are international companies.
Chancellor of the exchequer, Philip Hammond, has blamed Britain’s slow growth in recent quarters on Brexit uncertainty.
Speaking in Coventry today, Hammond told reporters that:
“Clearly that uncertainty is having a depressing effect on economic growth.”
The TUC make a very important point — if you adjust for population increases, Britain’s growth has been extremely poor since the financial crisis.
“The latest figures cap a dismal decade for the economy. But we should not accept weak growth as the new normal – it’s the result of bad management of the economy. There has been too little investment and a failure to focus on getting wages rising.
“If we want a stronger decade ahead, the UK must catch up with the levels investment we see in other OECD nations. And the government must put action to get wages rising at the heart of its plans.”
However…Rebecca Long Bailey MP, Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary, is concerned that Sports Direct now has control of House of Fraser.
‘It is unforgivable that the Conservatives have stood by and done nothing while tens of thousands of jobs have been put at risk. Their inaction has prepared the ground for the likes of Mike Ashley, notorious for his company’s poor treatment of workers, to hoover up businesses.
Staff will undoubtedly be concerned about what the sale means for their wages and conditions.
House of Fraser saw its business rates store bill jump by 15% – nearly £4m – to £30.2million this year, says experts Altus. Hardly helped its perilous state. Oh, and rival Amazon’s UK corporation tax bill nearly halved to £4.6m last year.
Simon Underwood, business recovery partner at accountancy firm, Menzies LLP, says it’s a “welcome outcome”:
“This is possibly the best news from the High Street this year and a positive indicator for other ailing retailers.
“House of Fraser is a strong brand and this £90m bid from Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley means many of its stores will be saved and its operations streamlined.
“Now that Sports Direct has acquired the House of Fraser brand – including all of the stock in the business – it will allow continued operation with a likely focus on the flagship stores.
“This will be welcome news not only for suppliers who rely on House of Fraser for their livelihoods, but also for all employees involved.
Britain’s economy is still “struggling to gain momentum” despite growing faster in April-June, says Mike Jakeman, senior economist at PwC,
“The improvement was partly driven by one-off events, such as higher consumer spending on food and drink around the World Cup, the heatwave and the Royal Wedding. However, there was also some evidence that hot weather and wall-to-wall football deterred shoppers from buying goods other than food or drink. The net effect was that household consumption grew at the same pace as in Q1.
“Instead, the acceleration was driven by investment, which rebounded after a very poor first quarter, but only to the level seen at the end of 2017. Brexit-related uncertainty is still deterring large, export-focused firms from committing to investment plans. Net trade also subtracted from growth for the first time since late 2016, as a result of weaker exports of cars and planes.
Although the 0.4 quarter on quarter per cent growth for 2018Q2 is in line with expectations, the annual growth reading of 1.3 per cent is slightly lower than that the 1.41 per cent estimate (based on market interest rate expectations) by BoE policymakers and even lower than the 1.5 per cent ‘trend growth´ considered by the Bank as our new economic ‘norm’.
What BoE policymakers have decided to do is store up interest rate ‘ammunition’ should Brexit-related developments over the next few months require deep interest rate cuts to revive the economy.
It is vital that financial markets and traders see all this so that selling pressure on the sterling currency recedes.
Sam Tombs of Pantheon Economics makes an important point — the slump in sterling since the Brexit vote has not healed the UK’s trade woes:
Staggering that net trade has dragged on GDP growth since sterling depreciated. At the same stage after all other 10%+ depreciations since 1945, net trade had boosted growth. Brexit may not have happened yet, but the risks it poses already are draining the life out of the economy pic.twitter.com/tspni6Spm4
Anthony Gillham, head of investment at City firm Quilter Investors, isn’t very impressed with today’s growth report.
He warns that the UK is still ‘playing catch-up’ after slowing last winter.
“While growth has improved slightly, it does so from a low starting point. Over the medium term, UK growth has been thoroughly unspectacular, with the domestic economy expanding at a slower pace than most developed countries.
“There is a real risk of stagflation on the horizon, with the recent interest rate hike failing to address the fall in the pound, and the sentiment of Mark Carney and Liam Fox even talking the value of Sterling to its lowest point against the dollar in a year. The UK finds itself in a difficult situation where the Bank of England is hiking rates to try and keep a lid on import costs that drive up inflation, but it is doing so against the backdrop of weak economic growth.
“The general climate of uncertainty that pervades is discouraging households form making big ticket purchases, while business investment is also stifled as a result of CEOs feeling cautious about starting big projects before they have more certainty about the UK’s future relationship with European trading partners.
Suren Thiru, head of economics at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), says Britain’s growth rate remains lacklustre.
He’s particularly concerned by today’s trade figures, saying:
“The higher growth in the second quarter was largely due to stronger service sector output, which helped offset a contraction in industrial output and a widening trade deficit. While there was pick-up in construction output, the improvement was from a low base, and the sector continues to add little to overall UK growth.
“The widening of the UK’s trade deficit in the quarter is disappointing, and reflects both a decline in goods exports and a rise in imported goods. The deterioration in the UK’s net trade position is further confirmation that we are still some way from achieving a rebalancing of our economy.
UK economic growth is still “way below the gains we were used to before the financial crisis” says Rob Hodgson, Head of Wealth Management at GWM Investment Management.
Economics journalist Dharshini David agrees that 0.4% growth isn’t something to shout about
Reality check: growth may have accelerated in Q2 but only from a frankly puny Q1, and only to a rate that until recently would have been marked as sub-par
John McDonnell MP, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, says the economy is suffering from Brexit uncertainty, and years of government cutbacks:
“More than eight years of unnecessary ideologically-driven austerity has created an economy unable to cope with the instability brought about by the Tories’ mismanagement of the Brexit negotiations.
The result is low growth and stagnant pay. “Grow this anaemic, councils are going bankrupt and the NHS is now in permanent crisis while holidaymakers are being hit by the Tories’ falling pound.
Chancellor Philip Hammond has tweeted:
The economy has grown every year since 2010. Unemployment is at its lowest since the 1970s and our national debt is starting to fall.
Back on GDP, and this chart shows how Britain’s manufacturers had a tough few months:
Today’s q2 GDP data doesn’t make for pleasant reading for the manufacturing sector. Output contracted by 0.9% overall with hefty declines across the majority of sub-sectors #ukmfgpic.twitter.com/OygO60foZ0
Newsflash: Sports Direct has bought House of Fraser for £90m, just a couple of hours after it fell into administration.
The retailer, run by Mike Ashley, is acquiring all of the group’s 51 stores, and its stock. It’s not clear what this means for the company’s 17,000 staff, though.
Sports Direct International plc (“the Company” or “the Group”) announces the acquisition of the business and assets of House of Fraser from the administrators of House of Fraser Limited, House of Fraser (Stores) Limited and James Beattie Limited, the House of Fraser group’s main operating companies (the “Operating Companies”), for a cash consideration of £90 million (the “Transaction”).
Pursuant to the Transaction, the Group has acquired all of the UK stores of House of Fraser, the House of Fraser brand and all of the stock in the business.
Although Britain’s growth rate picked up in the last quarter, it has been modest for the last 18 months:
Here’s Rob-Kent Smith, head of national accounts at the ONS, on today’s data:
“The economy picked up a little in the second quarter with both retail sales and construction helped by the good weather and rebounding from the effects of the snow earlier in the year.
However, manufacturing continued to fall back from its high point at the end of last year and underlying growth remained modest by historical standards.
Britain’s trade gap has worsened, as the country continues to import much more than it exports to the rest of the world.
The total UK trade deficit widened by £4.7bn to £8.6bn in the three months to June 2018, due mainly to falling goods exports and rising goods imports.
Britain’s service sector drove growth in the last quarter, growing by 0.5%.
The construction sector also had a good quarter, expanding by 0.9%.
The UK manufacturing sector is now in technical recession, contracting two quarters in a row. First time since early 2016. Slightly awkward for the Chancellor, who’s brought the media to an advanced manufacturing centre today pic.twitter.com/rDyQin5Gi2
Breaking! The UK economy grew by 0.4% in the second quarter of 2018.
That’s up from 0.2% in the first three months of the year, as the economy got back up to speed after the bad wintery weather.
The pound has fallen to a fresh 13-month low against the US dollar this morning.
Sterling shed three quarters of a cent in nervy trading to hit $1.2740, its lowest level since June 2017.
“The markets have lost confidence in the triumvirate of President Erdogan, his son-in-law as finance minister and the [central bank’s] ability to act as it needs to.”
Michael Hewson of CMC Markets predicts that the UK economy rebounded strongly in the last quarter:
A decent recovery across construction, manufacturing and services is expected to show 0.4% growth, with the timing of Easter, a Royal Wedding and warm weather set to paint a decent picture of economic activity.
Retail expert Nick Bubb thinks some parts of House of Fraser can still be saved, saying:
Hopes of a “pre-pack” deal to salvage parts of the business (with Sports Direct?) still seem high…
The House of Fraser story is moving fast.
EXCLUSIVE: Sports Direct tycoon Mike Ashley is close to striking a deal to buy House of Fraser. I understand that the Newcastle United FC owner could wrap up an agreement with administrators EY as soon as this morning, although deal has yet to be signed. Full story up soon.
Frank Slevin, chairman of House of Fraser, says he’s hopeful that the company’s future will be sorted out soon.
He told investors this morning:
“This has been an extraordinarily challenging six months in which the business has delivered so many critical elements of the turnaround plan.
Despite the very recent termination of the transaction between Cenbest and C.Banner, I am confident House of Fraser is close to securing its future.”
High street chain House of Fraser has confirmed it is appointing administrators after negotiations between investors and creditors failed to reach a “solvent solution.”
The retail chain, which employs over 17,000 people, has been forced to turn to Ernst & Young as administrators after days of negotiations with billionaire tycoons Mike Ashley and Philip Day, and the retail turnaround fund Alteri Investors.
Court hearings are expected to take place at 7:30 am today, at which orders will be sought appointing individuals from Ernst & Young LLP as administrators of each of the Operating Companies with immediate effect.
Significant progress has been made towards completing a sale of the Group’s business and assets. The proposed administrators are expected to continue to progress those discussions with a view to concluding a transaction shortly after their appointment.
The group needs about £50m after C.banner, the Hong Kong-listed owner of Hamleys, pulled out of plans to raise £70m to invest in House of Fraser.
Most industry experts expected any rescue to involve putting House of Fraser into administration to allow a new investor to buy its most attractive stores without taking on loss-making sites. Plum locations include shops in Glasgow as well as Bluewater in Kent, Manchester, Belfast and Meadowhall in Sheffield.
Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of the world economy, the financial markets, the eurozone and business.
Today we discover how Britain’s economy is faring, when growth figures for the second quarter of 2018 are released.
The second quarter was altogether brighter, with good weather, a Royal Wedding and the World Cup all driving consumer behaviour. The latest ONS retail sales data suggests that food and drink sales have been positively impacted by the sunshine and the football, while spending in pubs also increased by 9.5% year on year in June according to Barclaycard’s consumer analysis.
Not all parts of the UK economy have been making hay in the sunshine however, with big ticket items particularly under pressure. Household appliance sales fell 14.8% in the year to June according to Barclaycard, and the football combined with the warm weather led to a June drop in sales for non-food retailers according to the ONS.
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