THE PESO strengthened against the greenback on Thursday after the House of Representatives approved on second reading a third economic stimulus package as the country continues to grapple with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The local unit closed at P47.985 versus the dollar on Thursday, rising by 16.5 centavos from Wednesday’s finish of P48.15, data from the Bankers Association of the Philippines’ website showed.

The peso opened Thursday’s session weaker at P48.18 against the dollar. It dropped to as low as P48.19 during the day but recouped losses to close nearer to its intraday high of P47.977 versus the greenback.

Dollars traded went up $1.089 billion on Thursday from the $746.88 million seen on Wednesday.

“The peso…appreciated after the recent progress at the House of Representatives, where Bayanihan III nears its final approval as it moves onto the [third] reading,” Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) Chief Economist Michael L. Ricafort said in a text message.

The House of Representatives on Tuesday evening approved on second reading the proposed P401-billion economic stimulus measure, which seeks to drive recovery with additional support for pandemic-hit businesses and families.

Since it is not certified by Malacañang as urgent, Bayanihan III can only be approved on third and final reading next week.

The peso also rose amid recent fundraising activities at the local stock market that attracted foreign inflows, Mr. Ricafort added.

Meanwhile, a trader said peso appreciated amid market expectations of looser quarantine restrictions in June.

For Friday, the trader said the local unit might weaken versus the dollar on expectations of an upbeat US initial jobless claims report that was due for release overnight.

The trader expects the peso to move between P47.90 and P48.10 versus the dollar, while RCBC’s Mr. Ricafort gave a forecast range of P47.90 to P48.05. — IBC