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Peso enters P49/dollar territory, strongest in nearly 3 years

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The peso strengthened to a nearly three-year high against the dollar Friday on increased confidence in an economic recovery as businesses gradually restore operations across the world.

The peso closed at its high of P49.80 to the dollar, after closing flat at P50 Thursday, according to the Bankers Association of the Philippines.

Week-on-week, the peso gained 81 centavos from its P50.61 finish on May 29.

The peso opened the session at P49.93. The low was P50.05.

Dollar volume was $1.01 billion on Friday, well above the Thursday level of $602.2 million.

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Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. Chief Economist Michael L. Ricafort said the peso’s gains reflect improving risk sentiment for emerging market currencies as more economies re-open.

“The peso closed (at its strongest) in nearly three three years or since the P49.63 on June 15, 2017 amid improved global market risk appetite that led to gains in emerging markets,” he said in a text message.

Most of the Philippines transitioned to a more relaxed form of quarantine starting June 1 while Metro Manila and nearby provinces were under slightly more restrictive conditions, which nevertheless allowed businesses to reopen.

Meanwhile, a trader who asked not to be identified said the peso was supported by weaker appetite for the dollar on expectations of weak US economic data.

“The peso appreciated (due to) the waning appeal of the dollar ahead of likely downbeat US labor reports overnight,” he said.

Reuters reported that the US unemployment rate is likely to climb to almost 20% in May due to the pandemic, which would be a new record for the postwar era.

US Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia said on Thursday that the jobless rate may recover to below 10% by the end of 2020 as some workers who applied for unemployment benefits return to work. — Luz Wendy T. Noble

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