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Turkish central bank keeps interest rates steady

ISTANBUL, June 12 (Reuters) – Turkey’s central bank left its benchmark interest rate unchanged on Wednesday as expected and said it will maintain a tight monetary policy stance in order to contain risks to pricing behaviour and reinforce the disinflation process.

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It held the one-week repo rate at 24%, having raised it by 11.25 percentage points last year. In a Reuters poll, 14 economists had said they expected the rate to be kept steady while two predicted a cut.

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Annual inflation has eased from a 15-year peak of 25.24% in October, to a lower-than-expected 18.71% in May

The central bank last hiked the repo rate in September to support the lira in the face of a currency crisis which tipped the economy into recession. The economy contracted 2.6% year-on-year in the first quarter

Last year the lira weakened nearly 30% against the dollar over worries about diplomatic tensions with the United States and the central bank’s independence, with President Tayyip Erdogan pressing for lower borrowing costs to boost growth

The currency has weakened another 9 percent this year on renewed U.S. strains and political uncertainty generated by a re-run on June 23 of a mayoral election in Istanbul, after Erdogan’s AK Party narrowly lost the initial vote. (Reporting by Ezgi Erkoyun and Ali Kucukgocmen; Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Jonathan Spicer)