THE PESO moved sideways against the greenback on Monday as investors await the latest data on the country’s jobs situation.

The local unit closed at P48.561 per dollar on Monday, nearly flat versus its P48.56 finish on Friday, data from the Bankers Association of the Philippines showed.

The peso started the session at P48.55 against the dollar. Its weakest showing was at P48.61 while its intraday best was at P48.51 against the greenback.

Dollars that changed hands dropped to $685.98 million on Monday from the $933.45 million seen on Friday.

Market players were waiting on the sidelines for the jobs data release, which affected the peso’s flattish movement during the day, UnionBank of the Philippines, Inc. Chief Economist Ruben Carlo O. Asuncion said.

“It seems trading was lackluster and prices just moved sideways. Traders may also be waiting for unemployment numbers to be released,” Mr. Asuncion said in a Viber message.

The jobless rate in October eased to 8.7% or 3.813 million unemployed Filipinos in October, lower than the 10% unemployment rate in July but still a jump from the 4.6% in October 2019 when 2.045 million Filipinos were jobless.

It peaked at 17.6% in April, equivalent to 7.228 million jobless individuals at the height of the lockdown.

The preliminary results of the January Labor Force Survey are set to be released  by the Philippine Statistics Authority on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) Chief Economist Michael L. Ricafort said the peso’s marginal weakness was on the back of the losses seen in the stock market.

The Philippine Stock Exchange index dropped 1.81% or 124.45 points to finish at 6,756.92 on Monday. All sectoral indices fell, with the financials counter recording the steepest decline at 3.29% or 48.65 points to 1,428.97.

For today, UnionBank’s Mr. Asuncion gave a forecast range of P48.50 to P48.60 per dollar, while RCBC’s Mr. Ricafort expects the local unit to move within the P48.50 to P48.62 levels. — L.W.T. Noble