Turkey’s economy grew 4.5 pct in first quarter before coronavirus outbreak hit

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Traders work at their desks on the floor of the Borsa Istanbul in Istanbul on May 22, 2018. Turkey's embattled currency, the lira, has hit new historic lows against the US dollar after Fitch ratings agency expressed concerns over the central bank's independence in the wake of comments by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. / AFP PHOTO / OZAN KOSE

The Turkish economy grew 4.5 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2020, propelled by a lending spree just before the coronavirus pandemic brought on a sharp downturn beginning in March, official data revealed, according to Reuters.

The growth was lower than a Reuters poll forecast of 5.4 percent.

Compared to the fourth quarter of 2019, gross domestic product (GDP) expanded at a seasonally and calendar-adjusted 0.6 percent, according to data from the Turkish Statistical Institute.

Analysts say fallout from the pandemic will bring a severe downturn through midyear, the second in as many years for Turkey’s economy, though the strong growth in January and February could soften the blow.

Government officials say Turkey could end the year with positive growth, while other analysts expect a contraction.

In 2019 as a whole, Turkey grew 0.9 percent after it emerged from a recession brought on by a currency crisis a year earlier.

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