THE PESO strengthened versus the greenback on Monday, supported by optimism after the United States approved the use of a vaccine against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

The local unit closed at P48.05 per dollar on Monday, appreciating by two centavos from its Friday finish of P48.07 versus the greenback.

The peso opened the session at P48.10 against the dollar, which was also its weakest showing for the day. Meanwhile, its intraday best was at P48.04 versus the greenback.

The volume of dollars that changed hands amounted to $358.8 million, dropping from the $540.85 million seen on Friday.

The peso strengthened versus the dollar on the back of positive market sentiment on the progress on the use of a vaccine in the US, a trader said.

“The peso appreciated from market optimism after the US FDA (Food and Drug Administration) officially approved over the weekend the Pfizer [Inc.]’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use,” the trader said in an email.

The coronavirus vaccine, developed by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, gained emergency-use approval from federal regulators late on Friday, clearing the way for distribution to begin a mere 11 months after the United States documented its first COVID-19 infections, Reuters reported.

Healthcare workers and elderly residents of long-term care homes will be first in line to get the inoculations of a two-dose regimen given about three weeks apart.

Public health officials have warned Americans not to become complacent about wearing masks and avoiding crowds in the meantime.

More than 100 million people, or about 30% of the US population, could be immunized by the end of March, US Operation Warp Speed chief adviser Dr Moncef Slaoui said in an interview with Fox News Sunday.

Another source of risk-off sentiment on the dollar was the one-week extension of an expiring federal funding, said Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. Chief Economist Michael L. Ricafort in a text message.

Reuters reported that President Donald J. Trump on Friday signed the extension deal, buying more time for talks on a spending bill and further COVID-19 relief measures.

The US Senate passed the bill on the same day following its Wednesday approval in the House. The expiration of the federal funding will mean partial shutdown for government programs such as airport operations and activities of the US State Department.

The US Congress is now working to pass a $1.4-trillion bill meant to maintain federal operations until September 2021.

For today, Mr. Ricafort expects the peso to trade from P48 to P48.10 per dollar while the trader expects the local unit to move within the P48 to P48.20 range. — with Reuters