Philippine Peso Escapes Unscathed as Most Emerging Peers Tumble


The Philippine peso barely budged Monday even as a sell-off in emerging-market assets left a sea of red on most trading screens.

The Mexican peso and South African rand both plummeted almost 9% as a crash in oil prices and fear of the spreading coronavirus sparked a sell-off in developing-nation assets. In Asia, the South Korean won, Malaysian ringgit and Indonesian rupiah all fell about 1%.

Traders said the main reason for the peso’s outperformance can be found in its relationship to oil prices. The Philippines imports almost all of its crude requirements and a lower oil price helps improve the nation’s trade and current-account deficits, outweighing the negative shock to sentiment from the collapsing price of energy.

“The peso remains resilient due to the sharp decrease in oil prices,” said Alan Atienza, a treasurer at Philippine Bank of Communications in Manila. There is no sign the central bank has intervened to prop up the currency, he said.

The peso may also have been supported by speculation the authorities have plenty of ammunition to support it if necessary after data released last week showed foreign reserves rose to $87.6 billion, near a record.

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