Confectioner Ulker boosts Turkish stocks amid Ukraine peace drive

ISTANBUL, March 6 Thu Mar 6, 2014 4:24am EST

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ISTANBUL, March 6 (Reuters) - Turkish stocks firmed on Thursday, boosted by higher than expected quarterly profit from biscuit maker Ulker, while efforts to defuse the Ukrainian crisis gave some general relief to Turkish assets.

European Union leaders were expected to warn but not sanction Russia on Thursday over its military intervention in Ukraine after Moscow rebuffed Western diplomatic efforts to persuade it to pull forces in Crimea back to their bases.

The crisis, just across the Black Sea from Turkey, has cranked up regional political tensions and heightened aversion among investors towards riskier emerging market assets at a time when Turkish markets were already facing pressure from a corruption scandal in the run-up to local elections on March 30.

The lira firmed to 2.2012 against the dollar by 0901 GMT from 2.2085 late on Wednesday. The 10-year benchmark bond yield inched down to 10.52 percent from 10.54 percent on Wednesday with some analysts seeing negative news as already priced into Turkish assets.

"For Turkey, the weak levels of the currency and government bonds seem to have started attracting investors, as a lot of the negative news seems to have already been reflected in prices," a note from Erkin Isik, strategist at TEB-BNP Paribas said.

Confectioner Ulker, owned by food giant Yildiz Holding, said its net profit for the final quarter of 2013 surged to 66 million lira ($29.96 million), an increase of 152 percent on the same period of the previous year.

Ulker's shares jumped more than 6 percent on Thursday morning, while Gozde Girisim the financial arm of Yildiz, which also owns Godiva, saw its shares rise more than 8 percent.

The Istanbul share index rose 1.01 percent to 64,085.78 points, outperforming the wider emerging markets index , which was up 0.87 percent. ($1 = 2.2031 Turkish liras) (Reporting by Dasha Afanasieva; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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