THE PESO climbed to a near two-month high versus the dollar on Thursday following dovish comments from the US Federal Reserve chief.

The local currency closed at P54.27 versus the dollar on Thursday, rising by 23 centavos from Wednesday’s P54.50 finish, data from the Bankers Association of the Philippines’ website showed.

This was the peso’s best finish in almost two months or since it closed at P53.68 against the dollar on Feb. 3.

The peso opened Thursday’s session at P54.38 per dollar. Its intraday best was its closing level of P54.27, while its worst showing was at P54.595 versus the greenback.

Dollars traded fell to $1.136 billion on Thursday from the $1.4 billion recorded on Wednesday.

“The peso appreciated after the US Federal Reserve abandoned the case for ongoing rate increases, suggesting instead on some firming in US policy rates in the near future while keeping them at elevated levels,” a trader said in an e-mail.

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday raised interest rates by a quarter of a percentage point, but indicated it was on the verge of pausing further increases in borrowing costs after the recent collapse of two US banks, Reuters reported.

Fed Chair Jerome H. Powell sought to reassure investors about the soundness of the banking system, saying that the management of Silicon Valley Bank “failed badly,” but that the bank’s collapse did not indicate wider weaknesses in the banking system.

“These are not weaknesses that are running broadly through the banking system,” he said, adding that the takeover of Credit Suisse seemed to have been a positive outcome.

The Federal Open Market Committee policy statement also said the US banking system is “sound and resilient.”

The much-anticipated rate hike by the Fed, which had delivered eight previous rate hikes in the past year, sought to balance the risk of rampant inflation with the threat of instability in the banking system.

But in a key shift driven by the sudden failures this month of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank, the Fed’s latest policy statement no longer says that “ongoing increases” in rates will likely be appropriate.

Meanwhile, Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. Chief Economist Michael L. Ricafort said in a Viber message that the peso strengthened after the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) raised borrowing costs by 25 basis points, bringing its key rate to 6.25%.

For Friday, the trader expects the peso to strengthen further following the BSP’s move.

The trader sees the peso moving between P54.10 and P54.35 per dollar, while Mr. Ricafort expects it to trade from P54.20 to P54.40. — AMCS with Reuters