Peso flat as Biden eyes stimulus

THE PESO closed flat versus the dollar on Wednesday amid the anticipated distribution of vaccines against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and after US President-elect Joseph R. Biden, Jr. asked Congress to pass a relief package.

The peso closed at P48.05 against the dollar on Wednesday, unchanged from its Tuesday finish, data from the Bankers Association of the Philippines showed.

The peso opened Wednesday’s session at P48.04 per dollar. It hit an intraday best of P48.025 while its weakest showing for the day was at P48.06 versus the greenback.

Dollars traded rose to $742.45 million on Wednesday from $722.6 million previously.

Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. Chief Economist Michael L. Ricafort said the peso was flat after Mr. Biden asked the US Congress to pass a COVID-19 aid package.

Mr. Biden on Tuesday urged the US Congress to pass a coronavirus aid package that has been stalled for months, and promised more action to help the economy after he becomes president, Reuters reported.

Meanwhile, a trader said in the peso was unchanged as the market waits for further news on COVID-19 vaccine candidates.

Britain on Wednesday became the first western country to approve a COVID-19 vaccine, jumping ahead of the United States and Europe after its regulator cleared a shot developed by Pfizer for emergency use in record time.

A vaccine is seen as the best chance for the world to get back to some semblance of normality amid a pandemic which has killed nearly 1.5 million people and upended the global economy.

Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech have said their vaccine is 95% effective in preventing illness, much higher than expected.

Other frontrunners in the vaccine race include US biotech firm Moderna, which has said its shot is 94% successful in late-stage clinical trials. Moderna and Pfizer have developed their shots using new messenger RNA technology.

AstraZeneca said last month its COVID-19 shot, which is based on traditional vaccine technology, was 70% effective in pivotal trials and could be up to 90% effective.

For Thursday, Mr. Ricafort sees the peso moving from P48 to P48.10 versus the dollar, while the trader expects it to range from P48.08 to P48.15. — with Reuters

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