The peso strengthened against the dollar on Thursday, March 15, as investors stayed on the sidelines amid the geopolitical noise coming from President Donald J. Trump.

The local currency finished at P52.03 against the dollar on Thursday, gaining four centavos from its P52.07 close on Wednesday.

The peso opened slightly weaker at P52.08 versus the dollar. Its intraday low stood at P52.12, while its best showing was at P52.025 against the greenback.

Dollars traded thinned to $465.5 million on Thursday from the $500.35 million that changed hands in the previous session.

“Yesterday, we had the same story. The pair still traded within the range; volume was lower. The market is somehow dead these past few days,” a trader told BusinessWorld in a phone interview, adding that other currencies were also trading within the range as well.

“International currencies didn’t move as much as well… they’re also trading within the range because of the headlines lately, for example, Mr. Trump’s rhetoric.”

Another trader attributed the movement to the “heightened possibility of a trade war between the US and China over steel tariffs.”

Mr. Trump is seeking to slap China tariffs on up to $60 billion of imports, hitting directly the the technology and the telecommunication sectors.

According to two people who had discussed the matter with the White House, Mr. Trump is seeking to slap China tariffs on up to $60 billion of imports, hitting directly the technology and telecommunication sectors, Reuters reported.

Larry Kudlow, Mr. Trump’s new economic advisor, launched tough rhetoric against China, saying Beijing “has earned a tough response.”

“I must say as somebody who doesn’t like tariffs, I think China has earned a tough response not only from the United States,” Mr. Kudlow told CNBC yesterday, adding that the US could lead a a coalition of trading partners against China.

Mr. Kudlow was appointed as the director of the National Economic Council earlier this week, after Mr. Trump fired Gary Cohn.

In response, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said it will “have to take measures” should their interests were harmed.

“If the United States takes actions that harm China’s interests, China will have to take measures to firmly protect our legitimate rights,” he said. — Karl Angelo N. Vidal