THE peso closed sideways on Thursday as investors await clearer directions on lockdown measures while continuing to fear further spread of the virus.

The local unit ended trading at P50.69 per dollar yesterday, depreciating by a centavo from its P50.68 close on Wednesday, according to data from the Bankers Association of the Philippines.

The peso opened the session at P50.63 per dollar, which was also its intraday best. Meanwhile, its weakest was at P50.80 versus the greenback.

Dollars traded fell to $765.28 million on Thursday from the $856.48 million on Wednesday.

Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. Chief Economist Michael L. Ricafort said the slightly weaker peso came amid fears of the continued spread of the virus.

“The peso closed slightly weaker amid bigger increase in COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) cases in the country recently,” Mr. Ricafort said in a text message.

New infections in the country rose by 380 to 15,049 on Wednesday, according to health officials. This is the highest daily jump since the 414 infections logged on April 6.

Meanwhile, deaths rose to 904 while recoveries reached 3,506.

Meanwhile, a trader said the peso’s movement on Thursday was on the back of a wait-and-see approach from the market as guidelines for lockdown measures starting June have yet to be released.

“The peso weakened slightly as investors remained cautious on future quarantine facilities beyond May 31,” he said in an email.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte was expected to make a national address Thursday night to discuss the quarantine measures to be implemented in the country in the coming months.

Earlier, Metro Manila mayors said they will recommend the National Capital Region’s transition from a modified enhanced community quarantine to general community quarantine by June, in a bid to gradually reopen the economy.

For today, Mr. Ricafort gave a forecast range of P50.70 to P50.90 while the trader expects the local unit to trade between the P50.60 to P50.80 per dollar levels. — L.W.T. Noble