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The Turkish stock market had a volatile month in January. Early on, the Istanbul Stock Exchange's benchmark index leapt to an all-time high, thanks to a lot of foreign interest and positive momentum, particularly in the banking sector. However, in the last week of the month there were some notable daily declines, as the market lost about 8% in only four days. Although the market managed to end the month with a modest 1.8% gain, the recent volatility raises a lot of questions about last year's standout market.
We consider this sharp decline a market correction since we believe that, in the absence of any major news flow that would change the big picture, some short-term investors may have been encouraged to cash in.
That and the fact that Moody's disappointingly left Turkey's credit rating unchanged. Indeed, following Fitch's credit rating upgrade in November, the market had gained additional momentum as hopes grew that Turkey's credit rating would be upgraded by Moody's as well in the coming months. However, despite not ruling out a rating upgrade for Turkey, Moody's comments indicate that an upgrade in not imminent.
The other news which coincided with the market's rollercoaster month and subsequent decline came from Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He told reporters that Turkey is looking for alternative options to EU membership due to lack of progress in EU accession talks.
Erdogan added that the government is looking into the possibility of applying to become members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). Although Turkish policy makers may indeed be looking for new opportunities to improve the county's foreign relations, we do not think at this stage that Turkey has a firm strategy to give up on its long standing aspirations to become a member of the EU.
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