THE PESO strengthened against the greenback on Friday after the loosening of lockdown measures in the country to gradually reopen the economy.

The local unit finished trading at P50.61 per dollar, rising by eight centavos from its P50.69 close on Thursday, according to data from the Bankers Association of the Philippines.

Week-on-week, it also strengthened by nine centavos from its P50.70-per-dollar finish last May 22.

The peso opened the session at P50.60 per dollar. Its weakest showing was at P50.65 while its strongest was at P50.55 against the greenback.

Dollars traded dropped to $633.93 million on Friday from the $765.28 million logged on Thursday.

The easing of lockdown measures in parts of the country lifted market sentiment on prospects the economy is on its way to gradually reopen and recover, according to a trader.

“The peso appreciated from investor optimism after the NCR (National Capital Region) and nearby regions were already placed under the looser general community quarantine (GCQ),” the trader said in an email.

On Thursday evening, President Rodrigo R. Duterte said Metro Manila, Davao City, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, CALABARZON (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon), Pangasinan and Albay will be under GCQ by June 1. Mr. Duterte urged building owners and mall operators to allow considerations for rent payments as businesses begin after more than two months of lockdown.

Meanwhile, the rest of the country will be under modified general quarantine starting next month.

The lockdown that forced businesses to shut down since March was cited as one of the main culprits for the 0.2% drop in the country’s gross domestic product in the first quarter.

Aside from the transition to GCQ, Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. Chief Economist Michael L. Ricafort said the peso’s strength was also driven by recent weakness in the dollar due to tepid US data.

“The peso closed stronger after weaker dollar recently versus global currencies after weak US economic data on durable goods and home sales,” Mr. Ricafort said in a text message. — L.W.T. Noble