THE PESO rebounded versus the greenback on Thursday as the country’s foreign exchange buffers remained ample.

The local unit ended trading at P51.04 per dollar on Thursday, appreciating by 15 centavos from its P51.19 close on Wednesday, data from the Bankers Association of the Philippines showed.

The peso opened Thursday’s session stronger at P51.08 versus the dollar. Its weakest showing was at P51.225, while its intraday best was at P50.99 against the greenback.

Dollars exchanged dropped to $917.25 million on Thursday from $1.114 billion on Wednesday.

A trader attributed the peso’s strength to data that showed an increase in the country’s gross international reserves (GIR).

The country’s GIR stood at $108.891 billion as of end-December 2021, inching up by 1.08% from the $107.723 billion at end-November, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reported on Thursday.

However, this was lower by 1.11% from the record $110.117-billion level seen at end-2020 and was short of the BSP’s $111-billion end-2021 projection.

Still, at this level, the GIR is enough to cover 10.3 months’ worth of imports of goods and payments of services and primary income. It is also equivalent to about 8.8 times the country’s short-term external debt based on original maturity and 5.9 times based on residual maturity.

Gains at the local stock market also supported the peso, Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. Chief Economist Michael L. Ricafort said in a Viber message.

The Philippine Stock Exchange index gained 1.28% or 92.62 points to end at 7,307.75 on Thursday. The broader all shares index gained 1.05% or 40.20 points to close at 3,870.11.

For Friday, Mr. Ricafort gave a forecast range of P50.95 to P51.15 per dollar, while the trader expects the local unit to move within P50.90 to P51.20. — L.W.T. Noble