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Peso inches up on easing unemployment

THE PESO strengthened slightly against the greenback on Thursday following the release of data showing lower unemployment as of October.

The local unit closed at P48.045 per dollar, inching up from its P48.05 finish on Wednesday, data from the Bankers Association of the Philippines showed.

The peso started the session P48.045 versus the dollar. Its strongest showing for the day was at P48.031 while its weakest was at P48.06 against the greenback.

Dollars exchanged declined to $693.8 million from the $742.45 million on Tuesday.

The peso inched higher versus the dollar on the back of positive news on the Philippine job market, Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. Chief Economist Michael L. Ricafort said.

Latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed the country’s unemployment rate stood at 8.7% as of October, representing 3.8 million jobless Filipinos. This is better than the 10% seen in July but a jump from the 4.6% logged in the same period of 2019. 

The unemployment rate stood at a record 17.7% in April, representing 7.25 million jobless Filipinos at the height of the lockdown.

Meanwhile, a trader attributed the stronger peso to market sentiment regarding the proposed US stimulus package.

“The peso strengthened after Democrats agreed to the $908-billion stimulus package proposed by Republicans despite on-going discussions on the particulars,” the trader said in an email.

House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a democrat, and her ally, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConell, a Republican, to start engaging in negotiations using the $908-billion initiative as a foundation, Reuters reported.

For today, Mr. Ricafort expects the peso to trade between the P47.99 to P48.09 band versus the dollar, while the trader expects the local unit to move within the P47.95 to P48.15 range. — L.W.T. Noble with Reuters

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