Foreign investors fled when Turkey began cutting rates -IIF data

NEW YORK, Oct 21 (Reuters) - A small but steady flow of foreign cash into Turkish bonds abruptly reversed in September, when the central bank shocked markets with a rate cut that hit the lira, according to data from the Institute of International Finance.

The IIF data also show that cumulative flows into equities have been negative for the year, and a recovery trend that started in April also stalled as Turkey pivoted to easier monetary policy.

The central bank cut its key interest rate by 100 basis points to 18% last month despite rising inflation. On Thursday it is expected to ease policy again, by 50 or 100 points, according to a Reuters poll.

Net foreign flows into debt stand near $1.8 billion after peaking near $2.4 billion in early September, while stocks have seen a net outflow of $1.2 billion this year, the IIF data show.

Stock outflows bottomed in mid-April near $2 billion.

“We have seen strong outflows from debt in the last three weeks, probably due to uncertainty with the currency and increased risk perception,” said Jonathan Fortun, economist at IIF.

Declining flows weigh further on the lira, which is down 20% this year versus the dollar due partly to President Tayyip Erdogan’s pressure on the central bank for easing despite inflation running to near 20%.

Erdogan sacked three central bank monetary policy committee (MPC) members last week, including two seen to oppose last month’s rate cut. The bank has said rising inflation is temporary.

Once an darling of emerging market currencies, the lira hit a record low of 9.37 to the dollar on Tuesday.

The currency has shed nearly a third of its value in the last five years, reflecting a run-up to record local holdings of hard currencies and an exodus of foreign investors.

The monetary easing has left real rates negative with inflation up to 19.6% in September.

“The Turkish central bank’s policy of cutting interest rates amid rising inflation and a weakening currency will probably make both problems worse by spurring additional capital flight and deterring investment,” analysts at Stratfor said this week.

Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Editing by Jonathan Spicer