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Peso seen to climb further vs dollar


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THE PESO may strengthen further against the dollar this week as the market expects smaller rate increases from both the US Federal Reserve and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

The local currency closed at P54.71 versus the greenback on Friday, rising by 15 centavos from Thursday’s P54.86 finish, Bankers Association of the Philippines data showed.

Week on week, the peso climbed by 46 centavos from its P55.17 finish on March 10.

The peso opened Friday’s session at P54.75 per dollar, which was also its worst showing for the day. Meanwhile, its intraday best was at P54.61 versus the greenback.

Dollars traded went up to $880 million on Friday from the $799 million recorded on Thursday.

The peso strengthened on Friday “after the latest upward correction in the local and US stock markets,” Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. Chief Economist Michael L. Ricafort said in a Viber message.

Wall Street rose after US banks said they were contributing about $30 billion in deposits to First Republic Bank, Mr. Ricafort said.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 384.57 points or 1.19% to 31,861.98; the S&P 500 lost 43.64 points or 1.10% to 3,916.64; and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 86.76 points or 0.74% to 11,630.51, Reuters reported.

Mr. Ricafort added that latest US labor data also boosted the peso, as it could support a 25-basis-point (bp) rate hike by the Fed at its March 21-22 meeting.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits decreased 20,000 to a seasonally adjusted 192,000 for the week ended March 11, the US Labor department said. The drop was the largest since July.

The US central bank hiked its target interest rate by 25 bps at its Jan. 31 to Feb. 1 meeting to a range between 4.5% and 4.75%.

Since March 2022, the Fed has raised rates by a total of 450 bps.

For this week, Mr. Ricafort said the policy decisions of the Fed and the BSP will dictate peso-dollar trading this week.

He said both central banks are expected to increase rates by 25 bps.

“Many will likely stay on the sidelines as broad market uncertainty remains while waiting for the Fed and the BSP policy rate decisions,” Union Bank of the Philippines, Inc. Chief Economist Ruben Carlo O. Asuncion likewise said in a report.

“With the start of mild disinflation and a trajectory still de-anchored from the BSP’s target range this year, we expect the BSP to hike by 25 bps in this week’s Monetary Board meeting. The Fed is also expected to sustain its quarter-point hike to uphold its anti-inflation bias amid financial market turbulence caused by the recent banking failures,” he added.

The BSP will meet to review its policy settings on Thursday, March 23.

The central bank last month hiked benchmark interest rates by 50 bps, bringing its key rate to 6%.

The move brought cumulative increases since May 2022 to 400 bps.

For this week, Mr. Asuncion expects the peso to trade between P54.70 and P55.30 per dollar, while Mr. Ricafort sees it moving from P54.45 to P54.95. — A.M.C. Sy with Reuters

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