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Turkish lira firms against dollar ahead of Albayrak presentation

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The Turkish lira rallied 3 percent on Thursday ahead of a presentation by Finance Minister Berat Albayrak to investors, shrugging off U.S. comments ruling out the removal of steel tariffs on Turkey even if it frees a U.S. pastor.

The lira gained some support from the announcement late on Wednesday of a Qatari pledge to invest $15 billion in Turkey and Albayrak will be looking to reassure investors in his conference call at 1300 GMT.

The lira, which has weakened 34 percent against the dollar this year, firmed to 5.7500 against the dollar by 0722 GMT from a close of 5.95.

It has rebounded sharply from a record low of 7.24 this week, benefiting from central bank steps to underpin a currency hit by concerns at President Tayyip Erdogan’s influence over monetary policy and a bitter dispute with Washington.

JP Morgan said moves by Turkish authorities showed they were committed to stabilizing the currency with technical measures such as restricting forex swaps and cancelling repo auctions to push up the weighted average cost of funding.

“Yet at the same time (Turkish authorities) are reluctant to adopt orthodox policy frameworks. This could ultimately limit the efficacy of technical tools,” JP Morgan said.

Investors said Albayrak’s conference call was going to be a key test of whether Turkey can convince the market that its monetary policy is not hostage to political influence. [ID:nL5N1V60LV}

The White House said on Wednesday that it would not remove steel tariffs on Turkey, appearing to give Turkish authorities little incentive to work for the release of Andrew Brunson, a pastor on trial in Turkey on terrorism charges.

Turkish officials say Brunson’s case is a matter for the courts.

President Donald Trump doubled tariffs on Turkish metals exports to the United States last week prompting Turkey, which says it will not bow to threats, to raise tariffs on U.S. cars, alcohol and tobacco by the same amount on Wednesday.

The pastor row is one of several between the NATO allies, including diverging interests in Syria and U.S. objections to Ankara’s ambition to buy Russian defense systems, that have contributed to instability in Turkish financial markets.

“ECONOMIC COUP ATTEMPT”

Erdogan has repeatedly told Turks to exchange gold and hard currency into lira, saying the country was involved in an economic war with enemies and a presidential official gave a similar message on Thursday.

“We are a fending off this economic coup attempt with the wisdom of the Turkish nation and the leadership of our president,” Fahrettin Altun, the president’s communications director wrote on Twitter.

On Wednesday Erdogan met for more than three hours with Qatar’s Emir, who approved a package of economic projects, investments and deposits worth $15 billion.

A decree by Erdogan earlier in the day doubled Turkish tariffs on imports of U.S. passenger cars to 120 percent, alcoholic drinks to 140 percent and leaf tobacco to 60 percent. Tariffs were also doubled on goods such as cosmetics, rice and coal.

The White House called the Turkish response a step in the wrong direction and signaled a hard line on Brunson’s release.

“Pastor Andrew Brunson is an innocent man held in Turkey & justice demands that he be released. Turkey would do well not to test Trump’s resolve to see Americans who are wrongfully imprisoned in foreign lands returned home to the United States,” Vice President Mike Pence said in a tweet.

On Wednesday, a Turkish court rejected an appeal by Brunson’s lawyer for his appeal to be released from house arrest. An upper court had yet to rule on the appeal, his lawyer told Reuters.

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