Philippines' BOP swings to deficit in January

Posted at | Updated as of 02/20/14 3:55 AM

MANILA – The Philippines posted a balance of payments (BOP) deficit of $4.480 billion in January, data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) showed.

BSP has forecast a BOP surplus of $3 billion this year, lower than the previous year's $5.1 billion surplus.

BOP is a record of the country's commercial transactions with the rest of the world.

The Philippines ended 2013 with foreign reserves of $83 billion, also lower than its forecast of $85 billion.

But the BSP expects the country's foreign reserves to climb to a record $88 billion at the end of 2014.

The central bank forecast a current account surplus of $10.4 billion, or 3.3 percent of GDP, in 2014, narrower than expectations for a $11.1 billion surplus in 2013, due to imports needed for rebuilding after a typhoon.

Cash remittances from overseas Filipino workers, meanwhile, are projected to grow 5 percent this year.

Remittances in 2013 reached $22.76 billion, up 6.4 percent from a year earlier.

The central bank on February 6 left interest rates unchanged, defying some expectations of a hike. But it warned against a weaker peso and traders believe a rate hike might come soon.

The peso has clawed back some of its losses after being swept up in a global emerging markets rout in recent months.

It is down 0.48 percent to the dollar so far this year, one of the region's worst performing currencies.