Turkey’s stock market has plunged 15 percent in three days since the devastating earthquake. In the country’s south, more pain is piling on an already weak economy.
Trading on the Istanbul stock exchange was halted on Wednesday after the main index fell 7 percent in early trading, according to market data provider Refinitiv.
The suspension came as the exchange tried to restore calm by releasing two circuit breakers – a temporary halt in trading to prevent panic selling, Reuters reported.
A spokesperson for the exchange did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Early Monday morning, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake shook southern Turkey and parts of northern Syria, killing more than 9,500 people so far. According to the United States Geological Survey, it is the most powerful earthquake to hit Turkey since 1939, when an earthquake of similar magnitude killed 30,000 people.
The disaster comes at a time when Turkey is struggling with an economic crisis on several fronts. Annual consumer price inflation hit 85.5 percent in October, before falling back. But prices in January were still 57.7 percent higher than the same month a year ago, according to Turkey’s statistics agency.
While Turkey’s economy, like other countries, is suffering from the forces of global inflation, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s unorthodox economic policies have exacerbated the crisis.
Since September 2021, Turkey’s central bank has cut interest rates due to rising prices, while most of the rest of the world has been raising interest rates sharply to control inflation.
Last month, the World Bank said it expected Turkey’s economy to grow 2.7 percent this year, down from 4.7 percent in 2022.
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