The peso weakened against the dollar on Monday, March 19, ahead of the monetary policy meeting of the US central bank.

The local currency ended Monday’s session at P52.10 versus the greenback, 17 centavos weaker from its P51.93 finish the previous day.

The peso opened the session slightly stronger at P51.92 against the US currency, which was also its best showing for the day. Its intraday low, meanwhile, was at its P52.10-per-dollar.

Dollars traded plunged to $480.3 million from the $835.6 million that changed hands in the previous session.

“It moved weaker today. We opened flat, but we steadily moved higher throughout the day. We moved just in line with broad dollar strength,” a trader told BusinessWorld in a phone interview on Monday.

“Since we saw thin volume, that means the market remains cautious because we have a lot of data coming in this week,” he added, citing the monetary policy meeting of US Federal Reserve as well as the Bank of England.

The Fed is seen to hike interest rates during its two-day meeting this week, the first time for the US central bank this year.

Markets are also watching out for statements on the Fed’s policy direction to assess if the monetary authority will stick to its forecast of three rate hikes this year or raise it to four.

The March meeting of the FOMC will be the first for Fed Chair Jerome H. Powell after he replaced Janet L. Yellen last month.

Meanwhile, market players are also anticipating the monetary policy meeting of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas on Thursday, March 22. Economists are expecting the monetary authority to keep its policy steady. — Karl Angelo N. Vidal