WEAKENED BY US DEADLINE, PESO AT 55.04=$

Makati City, March 18, 2003 -- The peso closed weaker against the dollar on Tuesday as banks and comapnies held onto their dollars after the 48-hour deadline imposed by the US on Saddam Hussein to leave Iraq or face war.

The peso closed at 55.04 to the dollar from 54.895 on Monday. Volume was light at 43.3 million dollars. Demand from corporate buyers had eased but dollar holders were still unwilling to sell with the US attack on Iraq due to unfold anytime.

"Corporates and oil companies were prepared for war, and the majority of their (dollar) requirements were already bought and that's why there's not much demand," he said. "But on the other hand exporters are holding back (from unloading dollars)," he said, adding that dollars sold in the market were coming from the central bank.

Dealers said early corporate demand had pushed the peso to a day-low of 55.10, but it was able to recover later in the day.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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