THE PESO appreciated against the greenback on Monday, supported by positive market sentiment after progress in the clinical trial of an anti-viral drug for patients of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

The local unit closed at P49.45 versus the dollar on Monday, gaining 3.5 centavos from its P49.485 finish on Friday, data from the Bankers Association of the Philippines showed.

The peso opened the session at P49.455 per dollar, which was also its weakest showing for the day. Meanwhile, its intraday best was at P49.375.

Dollars traded slipped to $667.15 million from the $684.9 million on Friday.

A trader said the peso’s strength came after news of progress in an anti-viral drug for COVID-19.

“The peso appreciated after the clinical trials on the antiviral drug remdesivir indicated reduced risk of death from the COVID-19 pandemic,” the trader said in an e-mail.

South Korean health authorities said one in three seriously-ill COVID-19 patients showed signs of recovery after being administered with the antiviral drug of Gilead Sciences, Inc. Earlier, remdesivir also shorted hospital recovery for a US clinical trial.

Authorities said more research was needed to shed light on whether improvement was attributable to the drug or to factors such as patients’ immunity and other therapies.

Meanwhile, Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. Chief Economist Michael L. Ricafort attributed the peso’s climb to market sentiment on the upcoming retail Treasury bond (RTB) offer.

“Upcoming RTB issuance also partly supported sentiment on the peso as this may entail some foreign buyers,” he said in a text message.

The Bureau of the Treasury said the government is looking to raise at least P30 billion through the five-year RTBs which will be offered on July 16 to Aug. 7.

The offer will be the second for the year following the P310.8 billion raised from RTBs in February.

For Tuesday, the trader expects the peso to move within the P49.40 to P49.60 levels versus the dollar, while Mr. Ricafort gave a forecast range of P49.35 to P49.55. — L.W.T. Noble with Reuters