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Turkey: Stock trading halted again due to rapid losses

Turkish stocks extended their losses following Friday’s rout, prompting a fresh automatic trading halt after the lira slid to a record low.

The Borsa Istanbul 100 Index tumbled 5%, after climbing as much as 3.1% earlier. Trading was set to restart at 4:23 p.m. Istanbul time, according to the bourse’s statement.

This is the second session in a row that Turkish equities’ trading is halted due to rapid losses. The benchmark plunged as much as 9.1% on Friday, triggering automatic circuit breakers during the second-steepest selloff of the year. The slump was made worse by high levels of margin trading among local investors who have borrowed funds to join a recent rally in stocks.

Calls on margins “led to snowballing losses” on Friday, turning a price correction into “panic selling,” said Tuna Cetinkaya, assistant general manager at the Info Yatirim brokerage.

The lira’s 58% decline this year in the wake of 500 basis points of central bank rate cuts has sent local investors flocking to stocks to shield their savings, making Istanbul among the best-performing markets of 2021 in local currency terms, but the worst when measured in U.S. dollars.

The lira tumbled to another record low on Monday after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pledged to continue cutting interest rates, referring to Islamic proscriptions on usury as a basis for his policy.

Discount grocer BIM Birlesik Magazalar AS underperformed, while telecom operator Turk Telekom was among the only four stocks that gained.

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