THE PESO strengthened further against the greenback on Wednesday following the government’s announcement that AstraZeneca vaccines will arrive in the country on Thursday.

The local unit closed at P48.48 versus the dollar on Wednesday, gaining 8.5 centavos from its previous finish of P48.565, based on data from the Bankers Association of the Philippines’ website.

The peso opened the trading day at P48.48 against the dollar. It logged an intraday best of P48.45 while its weakest showing was at P48.61 against the greenback.

Dollars traded climbed to $1.095 billion on Wednesday from $856.94 million on Tuesday.

The peso appreciated against the dollar on news that vaccines from AstraZeneca would be arriving in the country on Thursday, Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. Chief Economist Michael L. Ricafort said in a Viber message.

He said the peso closed at its strongest level in more than a week or since Feb. 19, but yesterday’s finish was still among the weakest in four months.

Presidential Spokesperson Herminio “Harry” L. Roque, Jr. said on Tuesday that more than 487,000 doses of AstraZeneca are expected to arrive in the country on Thursday evening, under the COVAX facility.

“The peso was also stronger after the downward correction in global oil prices to new one-week lows. [Other factors include] the recent gains in the local stock market for the fourth straight day to two-week highs on continued market optimism on COVID-19 vaccine arrivals and rollouts, as well as recent measures to further reopen the economy, even before the expected nationwide MGCQ (modified general community quarantine) that could happen around April-May 2021,” Mr. Ricafort added.

Meanwhile, a trader said the peso strengthened after US Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard noted rising asset prices “but ruled out any near-term policy tapering.”

“The local currency might depreciate amid expectations of a firm US non-manufacturing PMI (purchasing managers’ index) report tomorrow,” the trader said via e-mail.

Mr. Ricafort expects the peso to range between P48.40 and P48.55 per dollar on Thursday, while the trader sees it ranging from P48.40 to P48.60 against the greenback. — B.M. Laforga