THE PESO appreciated further against the dollar on Thursday after latest data showed the country’s unemployment rate eased in March.

The local unit closed at P47.98 versus the greenback on Thursday, gaining 4.5 centavos from its P48.025-per-dollar finish on Wednesday, based on the data on Bankers Association of the Philippines’ website.

The peso opened the session at P48 per dollar and weakened to as low as P48.025. Meanwhile, its intraday high was at P47.935 versus the greenback.

The country’s improved unemployment rate boosted the peso versus the dollar, Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. Chief Economist Michael L. Ricafort said in a Viber message.

The Philippine Statistics Authority reported on Thursday that the number of jobless Filipinos went down to 3.441 million in March from 4.187 million in February.

This resulted in a 7.1% unemployment rate for that month, the lowest since the 5.3% in January 2020, as well as the record 17.6% in April 2020.

The underemployment rate, or the proportion of those already working but still looking for more work or longer working hours, likewise eased to 16.2% in March from 18.2% the month before.

Other positive developments also supported the peso, Mr. Ricafort said, such as the arrival of more coronavirus vaccines and the agreement lawmakers and the government’s economic team reached on pork import tariffs. 

The Agriculture department said senators and the economic team agreed that the tariff rates in Executive Order 128 will be raised to 10% for in-quota and 20% for out-quota imports for the first three months; and 15% in-quota and 25% for out-quota for the next nine months.

The two departments also agreed to reduce the minimum access volume threshold to 254,210 metric tons (MT) from 404,000 MT previously, in a bid to temper high inflation while preventing a serious hit to the local hog industry.

Mr. Ricafort expects the peso to range from P47.93 to P48.03 versus the dollar on Friday. — B.M. Laforga