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Forex reserves end three-month decline

By: - Reporter / @bendeveraINQ
/ 12:26 AM February 09, 2017

The country’s dollar reserves picked up to $81.04 billion in January partly as gold prices recovered at the start of the year, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas data released showed.

The gross international reserves (GIR) level last month was higher than end-2016’s $80.69 billion and reversed three straight months of decline from the all-time high of $86.139 billion in September.

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In a statement, BSP Deputy Governor and officer-in-charge Nestor A. Espenilla Jr. attributed the increase in GIR last January to “inflows arising from net foreign currency deposits by the national government, revaluation adjustments on the BSP’s gold holdings resulting from the increase in the price of gold in the international market, and its income from investments abroad.”

The higher end-January GIR level was nonetheless partially offset by the national government’s payments for maturing foreign exchange obligations as well as the BSP’s forex operations, Espenilla said.

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The peso stayed at the upper end of the 49:$1 range last month.

The GIR as of end-January could cover 9.2 months’ worth of imports of goods as well as payments of income and services.

The dollar reserves were likewise equivalent to 5.8 times the short-term external debt based on original maturity as well as 4.1 times based on residual maturity. The BSP defines short-term debt based on residual maturity as outstanding foreign debt whose original maturity is a year or less plus principal payments on medium- and long-term loans of the government and the private sector that are due within the next 12 months.

As for net international reserves, or the difference between the GIR and total short-term liabilities, these also rose to $81.04 billion in January from $80.69 billion a month ago.

For 2017, the BSP had projected dollar reserves to rise to $84.7 billion, equivalent to 8.8 months’ worth of imports.

In 2016, the end-December level was the lowest since January’s $80.69 billion, although still higher than end-2015’s $80.67 billion.

The end-2016 figure was also lower than the BSP’s revised GIR projection for 2016 of $83.7 billion, which had been cut from $84.8 billion previously.

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