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USDTRY: Can the CBRT Deliver the Lira’s Biggest Weekly Gain in More Than a Decade?


The Turkish Lira (TRY) was able to stage a massive 10% recovery against the greenback last week in its largest single-week percentage gain in more than a decade. This recovery followed the exits of Murat Uysal as CBRT Governor, as well as Berat Albayrak (President Erdogan’s son-in-law) as the Finance Minister. 

President Erdogan has brought in a new economic team with the primary aim of reversing the Lira’s 2020 slump. A prominent tool for achieving this would be to tighten monetary policy after a relentless round of easing that lasted one year. 

The Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey (CBRT) is set to announce its one-week repo rate, as well as overnight borrowing and lending rates on Thursday, November 19. The expectation is for a 500 basis points rate hike in the 1-week repo rate, which is the primary interest rate of the CBRT. This will be the debut rate decision under new CBRT head, Naci Ağbal.

Some economists expect a rate hike to add more strength to the Lira in the short term. Robin Brooks, who is the Chief Economist at the Institute of International Finance (IIF), projects a price move that takes the pair below 7.50. Adding to this sentiment is the expectation of further global recovery amid coronavirus vaccine hopes, which would promote risky sentiment and pressurize the greenback. 

Furthermore, the low-interest-rate environment of the US in comparison with several emerging market currencies could see a return of the carry trades, which could be TRY-positive.

However, suppose the expected December rollout of the Pfizer/BionNTech vaccine is pushed forward, and the second wave of the coronavirus continues its relentless onslaught across Europe and the US. In that case, this could further promote risk aversion and flight to the safe-haven US Dollar. This situation could cap any expected strength the Lira would get from a rate hike. The Lira has lost 28% against the greenback despite last week’s gain, so it remains under some relative pressure to perform. 

Technical Levels to Watch

The consensus is for the CBRT to hike interest rates to 15.00%, which represents a 500 basis points hike from the current levels. If this expectation is met or exceeded by the CBRT, we could see some short-term strengthening in the Lira, which would pressurize the 50% retracement price level of 7.62494. A breakdown of this level targets the 61.8% Fibonacci retracement level of 7.39840 at the first instance, with 7.26356 (May 7 high in role reversal) and 7.19656 (May 6 high and August 11 low) serving as additional downside targets.

On the flip side, a rate hike of less than 500 basis points, could allow the USDTRY to gain following an initial downward spike. This move would target a breakout of 7.78688, targeting resistance levels at 7.95635 and possibly 8.12173. A rate hold is an improbable outcome of Thursday’s meeting, but if this were to happen, expect some hefty weakness in the Lira, which allows the USDTRY to target recent all-time highs at 8.6000.

Traders should be cautious in setting positions as moves of more than 500 pips have been known to occur on this pair during interest rate decisions, especially when a new CBRT head is taking charge for the first time.

USDTRY Daily Chart