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Peso weakens following mixed US jobs report

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PHILIPPINE STAR_KRIZ JOHN ROSALES

THE PESO weakened on Monday as the dollar strengthened against a basket of currencies.

The local unit closed Monday’s session at P51.87 versus the greenback, 19.5 centavos weaker than the P51.675-per-dollar finish on Friday.

The peso opened the session at P51.68 versus the dollar, which was also its best showing. It slipped to as low as P51.92 before settling at its close.

Dollars traded slid to $585 million on Monday from the $823.4 million the previous session.

Traders said the dollar strengthened against a basket of currencies, including the peso.

Reuters reported that the dollar index was at its near four-month high on early Monday, standing at 92.609 from Friday’s 92.908.

“The dollar strengthened against the peso in line with the region. Most Asian currencies were weaker against the dollar,” a trader said in a phone interview, adding that the mixed jobs data released last week were also factored in.

The US created 164,000 new jobs in April, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported late Friday. The figure is lower than the 192,000 expected payrolls growth in a Reuters poll, but higher than the revised 135,000 new jobs in March.

However, the unemployment rate fell to an 18-year low of 3.9% last month.

“Although it was mixed data, it’s broadly in line with what’s going on, which means the Fed (US Federal Reserve) is still expected to hike interest rates,” the trader said.

Meanwhile, another trader said: “Despite the [mixed] data, [investors] were thinking the rally of the dollar in the past few days caused some funds to cover their short dollar positions. That’s why the dollar continued to rally.”

Another trader attributed the peso’s depreciation to “hawkish signals from speeches of Fed officials over the weekend.”

In another Reuters report, San Francisco Fed President John Williams and Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic said separately they were keeping an open mind on how many interest rate hikes that will be needed this year.

For Tuesday, the first trader said the peso may move within the P51.70-P52.10 range against the dollar, while the other trader sees the pair treading a narrow range between P51.80 and P52. The third trader said the local currency may play within P51.70 to P52 versus the dollar. — KANV