The peso weakened further Friday as the growing threat of the Delta variant of the coronavirud continued to weigh on financial markets. 

The peso closed at P50.48 to the dollar , against its Thursday close of P50.39, according to Bankers Association of the Philippines website. 

The peso opened at P50.43, rising to a high of P50.37. The low was P50.49. 

Dollars trading volume eased to $641.17 million from $723.3 million the day prior. 

Weekonweek, the currency shed eight centavos from its P50.40 finish the previous Friday. 

The peso also weakened after the stock market slipped to one-week lows amid growing concerns over the Delta variant, raising the prospect of an extended lockdown, Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. Chief Economist Michael L. Ricafort said via Viber. 

Health authorities reported 13,178 new coronavirus infections Friday to bring the total number of active cases to 96,395. There were also 299 deaths reported due to the virus that day, pushing the tally to 29,838. 

The benchmark Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) fell 3.6% or 236.38 points to 6,320.19 Friday, while the broader all shares index declined 2.04% or 82.99 points to 3,976.94. 

The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) in a statement Friday warned that extending the hard lockdown imposed in Metro Manila to five weeks could further hamper economic activity. 

A bond trader said the peso’s weakness was also due to upbeat US initial jobless claims data and strong producer inflation readings. 

The US producer price index increased by a record 7.8% in July, while initial claims for public jobless benefits fell by 12,000 to 375000 for the week ending Aug. 7, according to Reuters. —  Beatrice M. Laforga