THE PESO weakened on Monday amid continued fears of an epidemic. — BW FILE PHOTO

THE PESO continued to depreciate on Monday due to rising concerns on the spread of the new coronavirus from China.

The local unit closed at P50.835 against the greenback yesterday, slightly weaker than the P50.815-a-dolllar finish it logged on Friday.

The peso opened at P50.88 per dollar on Monday and strengthened to as much as P50.80 during the day. It, meanwhile, logged an intraday low of P50.94 versus the dollar.

Total dollars traded yesterday dropped to $787.95 million from the $1.082 billion recorded last Friday.

Rizal Commercial Banking Corp.’s Chief Economist Michael L. Ricafort said in an e-mail that the peso’s performance yesterday was still “among the strongest in more than a week, amid some increase in global risk aversion largely due to continuing concerns over the spreading of the coronavirus to more countries and more deaths recorded in China.”

“Asian currencies were weaker versus the US dollar due to the recent declines posted in most Asian stock markets and any resulting reduction in tourism business (local and foreign) due to concerns over coronavirus may reduce US dollar revenues of China and other affected countries,” Mr. Ricafort added.

UnionBank of the Philippines, Inc. Chief Economist Ruben Carlo O. Asuncion shared the same thoughts, saying “the market stayed on the sidelines with the uncertainties of the new corona virus and its potential economic and human impact.”

“Much of the Asian markets reacted to the recent events concerning this deadly virus infecting much in mainland China,” Mr. Asuncion said.

“The peso is expected to weaken, and much of Asian currencies, as this major health threat continues to unfold,” he added.

Reuters reported that the novel coronavirus from Wuhan, China has affected more than 2,000 people, while the death toll from the disease has risen to more than 80 people so far.

There is still no confirmed case of the virus in the Philippines.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said the government will discuss the issue in the next Cabinet meeting.

For today, RCBC’s Mr. Ricafort sees the peso trading within P50.75-50.95 against the greenback, while UnionBank’s Mr. Asuncion gave a forecast range of P50.80 to P51.20. — B.M. Laforga with Reuters