- Lira hits record low of 18.85 to the dollar
- Key stocks indexes down between 3.4-5%
- A number of companies suspended from trading
- Quake adds to election jitters, inflation woes and geopolitics
LONDON, Feb 6 (Reuters) - Turkey's lira hit a record low and its stock markets tumbled on Monday as a major earthquake added to pressures from a strong dollar, geopolitical risks and surprise inflation readings out of the country.
The lira slipped to 18.85 , in early trade before retracing most of its losses. The country's main equities benchmark dropped as much as 4.6% with banks tumbling more than 5% before paring some losses with key indexes down between 3.4-5% by 1310 GMT.
Yields on local 10-year government bonds rose to as much as 10.2% - their highest in nearly two months.
"The tragic events with southern part of Turkey being hit by a powerful earthquake is source of additional uncertainty ahead of crucial elections that most likely are going to be held in May," said Piotr Matys, senior FX analyst at In Touch Capital Markets.
More than 1,400 people were killed and thousands injured on Monday when a huge earthquake of magnitude 7.8 struck central Turkey and northwest Syria early in the morning, followed in the afternoon by another large quake.
Borsa Istanbul announced a temporary halt to transactions in shares of several companies in the earthquake zone in the early morning, though added more names to the list as the day progressed.
Emerging markets are under pressure more widely with currencies and stocks across the developing world feeling the pain from a sharp dollar rally on Friday in the wake of a strong U.S. jobs report, suggesting the Federal Reserve could stay hawkish for longer.
But Turkey is feeling additional pressures.
Turks beset for years by soaring inflation and currency crashes will likely head to the polls in May for presidential and parliamentary elections - perhaps the most consequential in the century-long history of the republic.
Many international investors have quit in recent years amid recurring market turmoil and Ankara's embrace of unorthodox economic and monetary policies, including cutting interest rates in the face of soaring inflation.
Geopolitical tensions have been on the rise again recently with indications that the United States would push for a harder line on Russian sanctions enforcement adding to pressure on Turkish markets after Washington warned Ankara about the export to Russia of chemicals, microchips and other products that can be used in Moscow's war effort in Ukraine.
Recent inflation data also raised concerns, said Tatha Ghose, FX analyst at Commerzbank, pointing to Friday's annual reading coming in at 57.68% in January - well above forecasts despite a favourable base effect.
"Last week's Turkish CPI print turned out to be somewhat of a shocker, re-igniting volatility in USD-TRY which had otherwise been conspicuously been absent in recent months," Ghose said.
"A new window of FX volatility could be around the corner."
Reporting by Karin Strohecker, additional reporting by Bansari Mayur Kamdar, Azra Ceylan; Editing by Toby Chopra, Emelia Sithole-Matarise and Kylie MacLellan