Peso retreats against dollar amid prolonged lockdown

Investors prefer the dollar after the release of an upbeat US jobs report, says the trader. – BW FILE PHOTO

The peso weakened against the greenback on Monday amid a sense of caution after the extension of the strengthened community quarantine in Metro Manila and neighboring provinces.

The local unit finished trading at P 48.635 to the dollar on Monday, losing 10.5 centavos from its close of 48.53 on Wednesday, according to data from the Bankers Association of the Philippines. The trade was suspended for the holidays of Holy Week.

The peso opened the session at P48.55. Its lowest was at P48.64 while its intraday best was at P48.488 to the dollar.

The weakness of the peso was caused by the risk-off sentiment following the extension of the lockdown in Metro Manila and surrounding provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Rizal and Bulacan, said Michael L. Ricafort, chief economist of Rizal Commercial Banking Corp.

Presidential spokesman Herminio “Harry” L. Roque on Saturday announced the extension of the lockdown as health facilities remained overwhelmed by rising infections.

COVID-19 infections rose from 8,355 to 803,398 on Monday, with active cases already at 143,726. The country already has the most active cases in ASEAN, followed by Indonesia with 116,709.

Meanwhile, a trader attributed the peso’s depreciation to investor preference for the dollar after an upbeat US jobs report was released last Friday.

Data from the US Department of Labor showed non-farm payrolls increased by 916,000 jobs in March, the biggest gain since August, Reuters reported. In total, the US economy created 1.6 million new jobs in the first quarter.

For Tuesday, Mr. Ricafort gave a forecast range of P48.58 to P48.68 while the trader expects the local unit to move between P48.50 and P48.70. – Luz Wendy T. Noble with Reuters

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