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Peso drops vs dollar on news of vaccine progress

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THE PESO weakened versus the dollar on Tuesday despite news of progress in vaccine candidates against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and amid bargain hunting in the local stock market.

The local unit closed at P48.24 versus the dollar on Tuesday, declining by 1.5 centavos from its P48.225 finish on Monday, data from the Bankers Association of the Philippines showed.

The peso opened Tuesday’s session at P48.20 against the dollar, which was also its intraday best. Meanwhile, it hit a low of P48.26 versus the greenback.

Dollars traded rose to $705.82 million on Tuesday from $565 million previously.

Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. Chief Economist Michael L. Ricafort said the peso weakened versus the dollar following the increase in global oil prices and improved sentiment on the back of vaccine hopes.

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“The peso was slightly weaker after global oil prices recently went up amid better economic prospects on COVID-19 vaccines with Moderna,” Mr. Ricafort said in a text message.

Moderna, Inc.’s experimental vaccine is 94.5% effective in preventing COVID-19 based on interim data from a late-stage trial, the company said on Monday, becoming the second US drug maker to report results that far exceed expectations, Reuters reported.

Together with Pfizer, Inc.’s vaccine, which is also more than 90% effective, and pending more safety data and regulatory review, the United States could have two vaccines authorized for emergency use in December with as many as 60 million doses of vaccine available this year.

The vaccines, both developed with new technology known as messenger RNA, represent powerful tools to fight a pandemic that has infected 54 million people worldwide and killed 1.3 million.

Meanwhile, a trader said the peso declined after investors in the stock market took profits.

“The peso weakened amid bargain hunting following the recent strength of the local currency,” the trader said in an e-mail.

For today, Mr. Ricafort sees the peso moving from P48.18 to 48.28 versus the dollar, while the trader expects a range of P48.15 to P48.35. — KKTJ with Reuters

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