Philippine peso dips most since February as virus curbs extended

Shashwat Awasthi, Reuters

Posted at Jun 15 2021 05:05 PM


The Philippine peso fell the most in almost four months on Tuesday after partial coronavirus curbs were prolonged and quarantine measures tightened in some parts of the country until end-June to control infections.

Most other emerging Asian currencies traded flat to slightly lower as the U.S. dollar held steady and Treasury yields recovered from three-month lows ahead of a much anticipated Federal Reserve meeting. 

Among regional stocks, Singapore's benchmark index climbed 0.8 percent. The Monetary Authority of Singapore on Monday released a survey that forecast the country's 2021 gross domestic product to expand more than expected. 

In the Philippines, the peso fell 0.4 percent to a more than two-week low and was set for its worst day since Feb. 25 after President Rodrigo Duterte extended restrictions on Monday. 

The peso closed at 48.03 to the US dollar from a previous close of 47.89.

"Despite seeing the vaccination in full swing, cases have plateaued at a relatively high daily count of 6,000, complicating the full reopening of the economy," said Nicholas Mapa, a senior economist at Dutch bank ING.

"Mobility curbs, partial and full, imposed for the entirety of Q2 point to a lower than predicted GDP report," he said, adding that some traders were also defensive ahead of the US Federal Reserve's meeting.

The US central bank could shed more light on its next policy steps, including when it will begin tapering its bond-buying program and tighten ultra-easy monetary settings.

Stocks in Manila recouped earlier losses and added as much as 0.9 percent, however, partly helped by consumer stocks which Mapa said benefited from increased dining capacity allowed in some parts of the Philippines.

The Indonesian rupiah 0.3 percent as it continued to hand back some recent gains before a Bank Indonesia (BI) meeting on Thursday.

There was little effect on markets from a jump in Indonesia's May exports and imports, or from a BI statement that it was watching for possible policy tightening in the U.S. through to 2022. 

Separately, data showed foreigners were net buyers of Asian bonds in May, helped by a drop in U.S. bond yields and a recovery in the region's economic activity, though the risk of spiking infections kept buying at a four-month low.

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