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Peso strengthens as gov’t adds economic frontliners on vaccine priority

THE PESO climbed against the greenback on Friday on the government’s decision to include frontliners from the financial services industry in the priority groups for the country’s vaccination drive.

The local unit closed at P48.38 per dollar on Friday, appreciating by six centavos from its P48.44 finish on Thursday, data from the Bankers Association of the Philippines showed.

It also strengthened by 16 centavos from its P48.54 close on April 8. The market was closed on April 9 in commemoration of the Day of Valor.

The peso opened Friday’s session at P48.45 a dollar, which was also its weakest showing. Meanwhile, its intraday best was at P48.35 against the greenback.

Dollars exchanged jumped to $950.11 million on Friday from $699.65 million on Thursday.

The peso gained following the announcement of a new priority group for vaccination which includes economic frontliners, Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. Chief Economist Michael L. Ricafort said in a text message.

Presidential Spokesperson Herminio “Harry” L. Roque on Friday said a fourth priority list for inoculation will include more essential workers, including media personnel, government workers, wet and dry market vendors, and frontline workers in delivery and grocery services, among others.

It will also include employees with lines of work related to tax collection, assessment of business for incentives, national ID, and data collection.

Meanwhile, a trader said the peso was backed by global optimism following the release of key US economic data, including reports on retail sales and initial jobless claims.

Data from the US Commerce Department showed retail sales rose 9.8% in March, the quickest pace since May 2020 and a turnaround from the 2.7% contraction in February, Reuters reported.

Meanwhile, the US Labor Department reported initial claims for state unemployment dropped by 193,000 to a seasonally adjusted 576,000 for the week ended April 10. This is the lowest since mid-March last year. — L.W.T. Noble with Reuters

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