ANKARA- Turkish economic growth dwindled to 1.6 percent year-on-year in the third quarter, data showed on Monday, falling short of forecasts as a currency crisis and soaring inflation led to the worst economic performance in two years.

Turkey, a major emerging market once seen as a star performer by international investors, racked up growth of more than 7 percent last year. But this year it has been battered by a lira sell-off that has driven up the costs of food and fuel and forced the central bank to hike its main rate to 24 percent.

The construction sector - long a beneficiary of Turkey's credit-fuelled building boom - contracted 5.3 percent year-on-year, the data showed, countering a 4.5 percent expansion in services.

"The loss in growth momentum began in the third quarter with a slowdown in private consumption and investments," said Muammer Komurcuoglu, an economist at Is Invest.

"We envisage a contraction in growth in the fourth quarter as a result of the negative impact of monetary tightening on financial conditions, a reduction in investment and consumption appetite with the loss in lira value, and high inflation."

In a Reuters poll, economists had forecast third quarter growth of 2.0 percent year-on-year. The lira eased to 5.3047 against the dollar after the data from 5.2950 beforehand.

By 0918 GMT the lira was at 5.2760 to the dollar.

It was the worst quarterly performance since the third quarter of 2016 - when Turkey was shaken by an attempted coup against President Tayyip Erdogan.

Output shrank a seasonally and calendar-adjusted 1.1 percent from the previous quarter, the data showed.

"The effects of August's currency crisis caused Turkey's economy to contract in Q3 and more timely evidence suggests that the downturn deepened in Q4," Jason Tuvey of Capital Economics said in a note to clients.

Revised data showed the economy had expanded 5.3 percent year-on-year in the second quarter, from a previously reported 5.2 percent.

The lira has slumped 28 percent against the dollar this year, but has rebounded from record lows in August when it was as much as 47 percent weaker against the U.S. currency.

The lira crisis sent annual inflation to more than 25 percent in October, its highest rate in 15 years, before easing in November. 

(Writing by Daren Butler Editing by David Dolan and Raissa Kasolowsky) ((; +90-212-350 7053; Reuters Messaging: