The Philippine peso hit its lowest level in almost 12 years during intraday trading yesterday as traders braced themselves for the possibility of more capital outflows next month.
The local currency declined to as low as P52.60 to the dollar during the morning session after the US Federal Reserve released details from their latest meeting pointing to the possibility of a rate hike in June.
Higher interest rates in the world’s largest economy make investing in securities more attractive, resulting in investors selling pesos to buy dollars.
The peso opened the session weaker at 52.50 and slid to 52.60 — the lowest since July 2006 — before recovering slightly to 52.45 to a dollar.
It closed the trading session at P52.55 to a dollar which was weaker than the previous day’s level of P52.47. Trading was brisk with a total of $ 899.95 million exchanged between currencies, compared to Wednesday’s $ 529.9 million.
“That’s the market. It goes up and down,” Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr. said when asked about the peso’s weakness.
BDO Unibank chief strategist Jonas Ravelas, meanwhile, said the prospects of a rate hike in the United States to head off inflationary pressures would continue to provide a boost to the dollar against other currencies like the peso.
“The recent rise in oil prices and the continued outflow of foreign funds are not helping the peso either,” he added.
“With the break of P52.50, the next resistance is “53.00,” he said. “Expect the currency to range within the P52.30-P52.60 levels in the near-term.”
The central bank, however, is letting the currency seek its own level instead of expending its resources to defend it.
Espenilla pointed out earlier that the country had more than ample dollar reserves, now at about P80 billion, to meet the needs of the country, whether they be Filipinos needing dollars to pay for foreign goods and services or investors repatriating their assets overseas.
More recently, Monetary Board member Felipe Medalla Jr. said the central bank could afford to use up to $ 20 billion of its reserves to meet the dollar outflow needs of the country.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.