Turkish assets outperform EM peers, led by banks

ISTANBUL, Feb 24 (Reuters) - The Turkish lira weakened on Tuesday due to worsening global economic sentiment while equities traded flat outperforming emerging market peers due to stronger banking stocks.

Istanbul's main stock exchange index .XU100 closed 0.17 percent higher at 24,032.46 points, outperforming European stocks and the emerging markets benchmark index .MSCIEF, which was trading 1.58 percent lower at 1511 GMT.

Turkish banking stocks .XBANK closed 0.91 percent higher after having been punished in last week's sell-off. Other heavyweight names also helped the bourse stay in positive territory.

"There were a couple of large capital names like Akbank AKBNK.IS and Tupras TUPRS.IS... keeping the market alive today," said Mehmet Ilgen, sales trader at Ata Invest.

Shares in Akbank the fourth most heavily traded share on the index closed 2.11 percent higher at 3.88 lira, while shares in Tupras were up 3.31 percent at 15.60 lira.

Both stocks had been punished last week due to negative news flow and Akbank, owned by U.S. bank Citigroup C.N, lost as much as 20 percent due to concerns over Citi's future.

“The market is trying to stay at around 24,000 points. There is not a lot of activity from foreign investors as no one is willing to build up large positions in the Turkish market, but locals are looking to 2008 full-year earnings results,” said Ilgen.

Petrol Ofisi, which is expected to release fourth quarter earnings on Tuesday closed 2.5 percent higher at 3.28 lira.

The Turkish lira IYIX= closed at 1.6955 against the dollar on the interbank market, down from the previous day's close of 1.6780. The currency was trading at 1.6925 in Wednesday-dated trade.

“We started pricing in lower global sentiment early in the day and we’ve been at those levels ever since,” said a trader.

The yield on the benchmark Turkish bond maturing on Nov. 3, 2010, <0#TRTSYSUM=IS> rose to 15.21 percent from the previous day’s close of 14.96 percent. (Reporting by Thomas Grove and Simla Cinar; Editing by Victoria Main)