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EMERGING MARKETS-Turkish lira plunges to near record low after central bank shake-up

March 22 (Reuters) - The Turkish lira plunged to a near record low and dollar bonds sold off on Monday following President Tayyip Erdogan’s shock decision to oust a hawkish central bank governor, with the risk-off sentiment also hitting other emerging market currencies.

The lira tumbled as much as 15% to 8.4850 versus the dollar - near November’s record low of 8.58 - after the appointment of Sahap Kavcioglu, a former banker and ruling party lawmaker, sparked fears of a reversal of recent rate hikes.

By 0800 GMT, the currency had recovered some of those losses to trade around 7.9103 as Finance Minister Lutfi Elvan said Turkey would stick to free market rules.

“It may well be that interest rate hikes are once again permitted by Erdogan in a phase of crisis-like lira depreciation but the recent developments should have shown currency traders that even then a sustainable monetary policy regime change is not to be expected,” said Ulrich Leuchtmann, head of FX at Commerzbank.

“The calming effect of interest rate hikes has probably been largely destroyed.”

The MSCI emerging market currency index was down about 0.1% after posting small gains last week as central banks in Turkey, Russia and Brazil hiked interest rates.

The South African rand sank 1.1% ahead of a three-day meeting of the South Africa Reserve Bank beginning Tuesday where the central bank is largely expected to keep interest rates unchanged.

The Russian rouble weakened to a more than two-week low versus the dollar as new sanctions against Moscow loomed.

Turkey’s longer-dated dollar-denominated sovereign bonds suffered their biggest daily drop on record, while the stock index plunged 7% to a near three-month low.

A broader index of emerging market stocks was up about 0.1%.

For GRAPHIC on emerging market FX performance in 2021, see tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh For GRAPHIC on MSCI emerging index performance in 2021, see tmsnrt.rs/2OusNdX

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For CENTRAL EUROPE market report, see

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Reporting by Sagarika Jaisinghani in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu

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