THE PESO strengthened against the dollar to hit a one-month high on Thursday following the announcement of a narrower trade deficit for February.

The local unit closed Thursday’s session at P51.835 versus the greenback, 6.5 centavos stronger than its P51.90-per-dollar finish on Wednesday. This was the peso’s best showing in more than a month or since it closed at P51.72 per dollar on March 4.

The peso opened the session at P51.90 versus the dollar. It strengthened to as high as P51.82, while its worst showing for the day stood at P51.95 per greenback.

Trading volume thinned to $690.5 million from the $990 million that changed hands the previous session.

A foreign exchange trader said the peso strengthened versus the dollar on better-than-expected domestic trade balance data.

The country’s trade deficit stood at $2.79 billion in February, narrower than $3.92 billion tallied the previous month but still wider compared with February 2018’s $2.54 billion.

However, another trader downplayed the trade data.

“It came out narrower than what was expected, but I think hindi ko masyadong binibigyan ng weight dahil sa (I don’t give it much weight due to) seasonal effects and impasse of the government budget for this year.

“Once the budget was finalized, the country’s import bill might pick up in the second half of the year,” the second trader said.

The trader added that there were dollar inflows throughout the day.

For today, both traders expect the peso to move between P51.70 and P52.10. — Karl Angelo N. Vidal