THE PESO continued to inch higher against the dollar on Friday as the market consolidated amid stronger-than-expected US retail sales data.

The local currency closed at P50.445 versus the greenback on Friday, two-and-a-half centavos stronger than its P50.47-per-dollar finish on Thursday.

The peso opened the session a tad weaker at P50.48, while its intraday high stood at P50.44 per dollar. Meanwhile, the peso’s worst showing stood at P50.55.

Dollars traded on Friday slid to $447.3 million from the $475.7 million that traded hands in the previous session.

A trader said the foreign exchange market continued to consolidate on Friday.

“Today’s exchange is fairly quiet, same ranges have held so far. Pretty much sideways trading the whole day,” the trader said over the phone on Friday. “There’s not really lot of movement in the other currencies as well, so we’re seeing more consolidation for the dollar-peso.”

Meanwhile, another trader said the peso depreciated in morning trade due to “strong US retail sales data coming beyond market expectations.”

US retail sales increased more than expected in November as the holiday shopping season got off to a brisk start, pointing to sustained strength in the economy that could pave the way for further Federal Reserve interest rate hikes next year.

The Commerce Department said retail sales rose 0.8% last month, with households buying a range of goods even as they cut back on purchases of motor vehicles. Data for October was revised to show sales gaining 0.5% instead of the previously reported 0.2% increase.

Retail sales accelerated 5.8% on an annual basis. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast retail sales increasing only 0.3% in November.

The second trader added that “the dollar became more attractive” as the US Federal Reserve hiked rates on Wednesday. “However, traders took profits in the afternoon trading ahead of the holiday season with no expected market movers coming towards the end of the year.” — K.A.N. Vidal