THE PESO weakened against the greenback on Thursday as oil prices rose, threatening a higher import bill for the country.

The local unit finished trading at P48.07 per dollar yesterday, shedding 3.7 centavos from its P48.033 close on Wednesday, data from the Bankers Association of the Philippines showed.

The peso opened Thursday’s session at P48.045 versus the dollar. Its intraday best was at P48.04 while it closed at its weakest level for the day.

Dollars traded went up to $518.45 million yesterday from $488.8 million on Wednesday.

Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. Chief Economist Michael L. Ricafort said the local unit depreciated due to the recent pickup in oil prices.

“The peso was slightly weaker after the latest rise in global oil prices above the $50-per-barrel level, which may increase the country’s oil import bill that entail purchase of more dollars,” Mr. Ricafort said in a text message.

Reuters reported that oil prices inched up on Thursday following a fall in US stock prices as well as the decision of Saudi Arabia to cut output in the next two months. 

Price per barrel for Brent crude rose 0.8% or 44 cents to $54.74 by 0734 GMT following some overnight gains.

Saudi Arabia, which is home to the biggest oil export facilities, said it would slash a million barrels per day from its February and March outputs.

For today, Mr. Ricafort gave a forecast range of P48.04 to P48.09 per dollar. — LWTN with Reuters