Growth data push peso, stocks up

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — HIGHER growth numbers drove the peso past 46 against the dollar again yesterday to close at its strongest level in almost seven years.

The local unit closed at 45.62, its strongest since Sept. 15, 2000, even as stocks soared on the back of Wall Street’s gains Friday and surging Asian markets, dealers said.

Foreign funds continued to pour into the local market as fund managers moved away from China amid concerns that authorities might introduce measures to cool the country’s overheated stock market, they said.

The composite index finished up 75.59 points at 3,622.94, surpassing the previous record close of 3,547.35 set on Friday. It also touched a new trading high of 3,629.82.

The peso opened at 45.90 against the dollar, stronger than Friday’s close of 46.08. It hit a low of 45.98 and a high of 45.58 before closing at 45.62.

Volume turnover reached $673 million, higher than Friday’s $541.125 million.

Traders said remittances from Filipino migrant workers played a big role in the peso’s appreciation, but their take on where the peso would be headed today were mixed.

A trader from a local bank said the dollar should be appreciating because of the good job numbers in the United States, but the peso had strengthened because of the remittances.

A trader from a foreign bank said euphoria from the good economic data released last week pushed the peso to new highs, adding the currency might trade on momentum today and hit new highs.

Traders said the market did not feel the central bank’s presence in the market, and that the relatively wide trading band resulting from the liberalization of the foreign exchange regime allowed banks to buy more dollars.

“Banks are taking advantage of the higher overbought limits, and the increased volatility in the peso shows that banks are taking advantage of both sides,” a trader said.