Peso rises vs dollar on eased restrictions, findings on Pfizer’s COVID-19 treatment

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THE PESO continued to strengthen versus the greenback on Monday on developments of a treatment for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and the relaxation of mobility restrictions in Metro Manila.

The local unit ended trading at P50.16 per dollar on Monday, appreciating by 17 centavos from its P50.33 close on Friday, data from the Bankers Association of the Philippines showed.

The currency’s Monday close is its strongest in more than a month or since it ended trading at P50.14 on Sept. 21.

The peso opened Monday’s session stronger than Friday’s close at P50.30 per dollar. Its weakest showing was at P50.34, while its intraday best was at P50.13 against the greenback.

Dollars exchanged dropped to $933.2 million on Monday from $1.2 billion on Friday.

The peso was backed by risk-on sentiment among investors following a report on progress in research for a COVID-19 treatment.

Reuters reported Friday that Pfizer, Inc.’s experimental antiviral pill was found to reduce chances of hospitalization or death by 89% for adults at risk of developing severe infection.

Pfizer’s pill, with the brand name Paxlovid, could secure US regulatory approval by the end of the year. Pfizer said it plans to submit interim trial results to the Food and Drug Administration before the Nov. 25 US Thanksgiving holiday. The trial was stopped early due to its high success rate.

President Joseph R. Biden said the US government has secured millions of doses of Pfizer’s drug.

Pfizer said it was currently expecting to manufacture more than 180,000 packs by the end of 2021 and at least 50 million packs by the end of 2022.

Meanwhile, a trader said the market was optimistic after the government decided to lift Metro Manila curfew hours last week.

Metro Manila officials lifted the general curfew in the area on Thursday after 19 months since the first lockdown in March 2020.

For Tuesday, Mr. Ricafort gave a forecast range of P50.10 to P50.30, while the trader expects the local unit to move within P50.20 to P50.45 per dollar. — L.W.T. Noble with Reuters

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