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Peso weakens on potential Trump impeachment

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THE peso weakened against the dollar on Friday as worries about the potential impeachment of US President Donald J. Trump haunted the market.

It closed at P50.815 against the greenback, 18 centavos weaker than on Thursday, according to data from the Bankers Association of the Philippines.

The peso also weakened by 17.5 centavos from a weak earlier.

The peso opened at P50.63 versus the dollar, weakened to as much as P50.86 and strengthened to as much as P50.625 a dollar.

Dollars traded slipped to $835.75 million from $998.7 million on Thursday.

Union Bank of the Philippines Chief Economist Ruben Carlo O. Asuncion traced the peso’s decline to “global headwinds.”

“The market is cautious going into the holiday break with global headwinds like the impeachment of US President Donald Trump as potentially the main driver,” he said in a text message.

Reuters reported that after US Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she would not submit the impeachment case to the Senate until they have established how Republicans will manage the proceedings, Mr. Trump tweeted that he preferred an immediate trial.

“So after the Democrats gave me no due Process in the House, no lawyers, no witnesses, no nothing, they now want to tell the Senate how to run their trial,” he said on Twitter. “I want an immediate trial.”

Ms. Pelosi was not expected to move until lawmakers come back after their year-end recess in early January, according to aides.

The US House of Representatives on Wednesday approved two articles of impeachment against Mr. Trump. A trial next month to decide whether he will be convicted and removed from office is expected at the Senate, which is considered to be a “friendlier terrain” for the US president.

Meanwhile, Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. Chief Economist Michael L. Ricafort traced the peso’s performance to US data.

“Stronger US initial jobless claims data also supported the latest gains in the dollar,” he said in a text message.

The number of Americans who filed for unemployment benefits slipped from more than a two-year high last week on labor market strength.

Data from the US Labor department released on Thursday showed that initial claims for state unemployment benefits went down by 18,000 to a seasonally adjusted 234,000 for the week.

Reuters said that although the drop did not unwind the jump by 49,000 seen last week, it likely does not indicate material shift in the labor market conditions as claims data tend to be volatile in the period after Thanksgiving. — Luz Wendy T. Noble





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