Philippine Peso Drops to One-Month Low on Rate-Cut Speculation

The Philippine peso fell to a one- month low on speculation Europe’s lingering debt crisis may prompt the central bank to cut interest rates this week to support growth. Bonds declined.

The currency weakened for a third day after the Group of 20 nations rebuffed Germany-led calls for more aid, telling Europe to do more to fight the crisis. Crude oil for April delivery traded at $108.91 a barrel in New York and has risen 11 percent this month. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas still has scope to support growth as inflation will remain within target even as fuel prices rise, Governor Amando Tetangco said on Feb. 22.

“There remains uncertainty on the details, the execution of resolving the Europe crisis and that’s affecting currencies including the peso,” said Ricky Cebrero, head of treasury at Philippine National Bank in Manila. “The central bank will probably cut the benchmark rate by a quarter point again at this week’s meeting and then pause given the volatile oil prices.”

The peso closed 0.4 percent lower at 42.978 per dollar, according to Tullett Prebon Plc. It touched 43.110, the weakest level since Jan. 25. The yield on the 8 percent July 2031 peso bond rose 10 basis points, or 0.10 percentage point, to 5.73 percent, data from Tradition Financial Services show.

Bangko Sentral (PPCBON) cut its overnight borrowing rate to 4.25 percent from 4.5 percent on Jan. 19, the first reduction in more than two years. The next policy meeting will be on March 1. Eight of 13 economists predict the central bank will reduce the rate to 4 percent, with four expecting it will be left unchanged. One forecast a half-a-percentage-point cut.

“Our assessment is, under specific stressed oil price levels, inflation would be elevated but the full-year inflation average would be within target,” Tetangco said in an e-mail last week. The central bank did “some scenario building” on the impact of oil prices that it will review at the March 1 policy meeting, he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Clarissa Batino in Manila at cbatino@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Sandy Hendry at shendry@bloomberg.net

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