Perhaps it was two rounds of Brazil’s national elections or persistent calls about the attractive valuations on Russian stocks that distracted emerging markets last month, but Turkish equities, amid little fanfare, were the best developing world performers in October.
Just seven of 23 emerging markets traded higher last month, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices, with Turkey being by far the best with an October gain of 10.2%. That is an advantage of more than 400 basis points over second-place South Africa.
Falling oil prices helped. “Turkey, which depends on oil imports for most of its energy needs, has the biggest balance-of-payments shortfall relative to economic output among developing nations,” reports Constantine Courcoulas for Bloomberg.
The iShares MSCI Turkey ETF (NYSEArca: TUR) was even better than the Borsa Istanbul 100 Index, surging 12.6% last month compared to a 3.5% gain for the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (NYSEArca: EEM). Not too shabby for a country that along with Brazil, Indonesia, India and South Africa is part of the so-called “Fragile Five” group of emerging markets that were supposedly vulnerable to the end of the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing scheme. [Emerging Markets Volatility on the Rise]
Due to Turkey’s sizable current account deficit, the country has been deemed vulnerable to changes in U.S. monetary policy, particularly those that bolster the dollar, in turn imperiling Turkey’s dollar-denominated debt. Still, lower oil prices remain a positive catalyst and Turkey’s central bank has room to pare rates.
“In particular, the lower oil price will nicely promote a much lower current account deficit as well as downward pressures on domestic prices. Under this global deflation fear environment, Turkey’s local rates are well positioned to continue performing. And let’s never forget, as I have said many times before, that the [Central Reserve Bank of Turkey] DNA is fundamentally dovish. That means that the CBRT will cut its policy rate at the very first opportunity,” said Societe Generale’s Phoenix Kalen in a note posted by Barron’s.