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Peso slips on stock market losses, worries over virus

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THE PESO slipped on Wednesday due to losses at the stock market and as coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infections in the country remained relatively high.

The local unit closed at P50.35 per dollar yesterday, barely changed from its P50.34 finish on Monday, based on data from the Bankers Association of the Philippines.

Trading was closed on Tuesday in view of Eid’l Adha. However, a Google search of the peso-dollar rate that showed the local unit strengthened to around P42 versus the greenback, which Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin E. Diokno clarified was a “pricing feed error” that did not come from official sources such as the Bankers Association of the Philippines and Bloomberg.

“We highly doubt that there were any material transactions dealt at those rates as these would definitely be “off market” and would be subjected to internal reviews of these platforms. That someone would be willing to trade at these off-market prices using these apps can warrant further investigation,” Mr. Diokno told reporters via Viber on Wednesday.

The peso opened Wednesday’s session at P50.35 per dollar. Its weakest showing was at P50.41, while its intraday best was at P50.17 against the greenback.

Dollars traded rose to $1.007 billion on Wednesday from $810.99 million on Monday.

The peso weakened as local stocks dropped, Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. Chief Economist Michael L. Ricafort said. The Philippine Stock Exchange index declined by 110.99 points or 1.68% to close at 6,476.21 on Wednesday, while the broader all shares index lost 53.55 points or 1.31% to end at 4,031.

Meanwhile, a trader attributed the peso’s decline to cautiousness among investors amid the high number of COVID-19 cases in the country.

Infections rose by 6,560 on Wednesday to bring active cases to 47,996, the Health department reported. The virus has already sickened 1.524 million in the country, based on data from the Department of Health.

For Thursday, Mr. Ricafort gave a forecast range of P50.15 to P50.40 per dollar, while the trader expects the local unit to move within P50.25 to P50.45. — L.W.T. Noble

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