(Updates with economist comment in fourth paragraph.)
Sept. 30 (Bloomberg) -- Turkey’s trade deficit widened in August from a year earlier, undermining central bank forecasts of an improvement in the country’s current-account gap.
The deficit was $8.2 billion in the month, compared with $6.9 billion a year earlier, and $9 billion the previous month, the statistics office in Ankara said on its website today. The figure exceeded the median estimate of $7.1 billion from eight analysts in a Bloomberg survey.
The central bank cut its benchmark interest rate last month, saying the economy is slowing, which will lead to a “rapid” improvement in the current-account deficit. The cumulative gap in the 12 months through July widened to a record $74.6 billion, equivalent to about 10 percent of gross domestic product.
“This is not a good number as far as the central bank is concerned,” Ozan Gaziturk, an economist at lender Sekerbank TAS in Istanbul who predicted an $8 billion deficit, said in a telephone interview. “Even if the expansion in the 12-month current account may have stopped, it’s not going to narrow, not in August at least.”
The lira fell after the figures were announced and was trading at 1.8613 per dollar, nearing a record low, at 10:10 a.m. in Istanbul. The currency is heading for a fifth straight month of declines, the longest losing streak since a financial crisis in 2001.
The deficit is an obstacle to an upgrade in Turkey’s long- term foreign-currency debt rating, Standard & Poor’s analyst Frank Gill said on Sept. 20, when S&P lifted Turkey’s local- currency debt rating by one level to BBB-, the lowest investment-grade ranking, and affirmed its foreign-currency ranking at BB with a positive outlook.
--Editors: Karl Maier, Jennifer M. Freedman
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