THE PESO weakened versus the dollar on Monday on risk-off sentiment caused by the surge in new coronavirus infections in the country as well as the decline in cash remittances.

The local unit closed at P48.54 per dollar yesterday, shedding 8.5 centavos from its Friday close of P48.455, based on data from the Bankers Association of the Philippines.

The peso opened Monday’s session at P48.46 per dollar. Its weakest showing was at P48.555, while its intraday best was at P48.43 against the greenback.

Dollars exchanged went down to $798.55 million on Monday from $913.73 million on Friday.

A trader attributed the peso’s weakness to the virus’ continued spread in the country.

“The peso weakened amid local caution from the rising number of new local COVID-19 cases, prompting more stringent curfews in the National Capital Region,” the trader said in an email.

Coronavirus infections in the country increased by 5,404 to 626,893 on Monday, the Department of Health reported. This is the highest daily rise since August last year.

Granular lockdowns have already been imposed in some barangays where cases have been increasing. A 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew will also be enforced in Metro Manila from March 15 to March 31. 

Meanwhile, Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. Chief Economist Michael L. Ricafort said data showing lower remittance inflows amid continued repatriations and tighter restriction measures in host economies also caused the peso to weaken.

Data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas released Monday showed cash remittances in January dropped 1.7% to $2.603 billion from $2.648 billion a year ago. It also dropped by a tenth (9.93%) from the $2.89 billion seen in December.

For today, the trader gave a forecast range of P48.45 to P48.65 per dollar while Mr. Ricafort expects the peso to move within P48.50 to P48.60 against the greenback. — LWTN