BSP CHIEF SEES PESO FIRMING UP NEAR 55:$1 LEVEL

MANILA, DECEMBER 2, 2003  (STAR) By Des Ferriols - Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Rafael Buenaventura said yesterday he sees the peso firming to near 55 per dollar this month, helped by dollars sent home by Filipinos working overseas and slower import payments.

At the Philippine Dealing System (PDS), the peso managed to gain 21 centavos to close yesterday at 55.520 from Friday’s close of 55.730 to the dollar. It opened weak at 55.700 but managed to recover by midday, hitting a high of 55.470 to $1. Total volume traded amounted to $156 million on an average rate of 55.611: $1.

"It would be closer to 55 than what they (market players) are talking about of 56," Buenaventura said.

"It’s due to a slowing down of import payments and assuming no major surprises from the political front," he added.

The peso hit a new all-time low of 55.85 per dollar on Thursday after the announcement by highly popular movie actor Fernando Poe Jr., who has no political experience, that he will stand in next year’s presidential polls.

The new record eclipsed the 55.75 nadir hit just before former President Joseph Estrada, also a movie actor and supporter of Poe, was ousted by a popular uprising in January 2001.

Buenaventura said an expected improvement in export receipts in the last two months of the year and a rise in foreign portfolio investments in the country should also lift the peso.

Exports rose 2.3 percent in the year to September, with electronics shipments – which make up about two-thirds of overall exports – up for the first time in six months.

Buenaventura said dollar remittances from millions of overseas Filipino workers – mostly nurses, caregivers, seafarers, domestic helpers and IT professionals – are expected to rise six percent this year from $7.2 billion in 2002. The government originally estimated remittances would not grow this year due to the Iraq war, but Buenaventura said they should hit $8 billion in 2004 thanks to the improving global economy.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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