Forex reserves hit all-time high in end-October

By Beatrice M. Laforga, Reporter

Philippine dollar reserves rose to a fresh record of $103.814 at the end of October, boosted by the central bank’s foreign exchange operations.

The gross international reserves rose by 3.35% from a month earlier, based on documents sent by Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin E. Diokno to reporters on Friday.

The higher reserves were largely due to the central bank’s net foreign exchange operations worth $3.46 billion, $77 million worth of net deposits made by the government in foreign currency, and the revaluation gains on BSP’s gold holdings worth $49 million.

The reserve level at the end of September was already higher than the central bank’s $100-billion projection for the full year.

“The end-October 2020 GIR level represents more than adequate external liquidity buffer,” BSP said in a statement.

It said the current stock was equivalent to 10.3 months of imports of goods and payments of services and primary income. It could also cover 9.3 times the country’s short-term foreign debt based on original maturity, and 5.4 times based on residual maturity.

The higher reserve level reflects the narrowing trade deficit data as the growth in exports outpace imports, Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. Chief Economist Michael L. Ricafort said in a Viber message .

“For the coming months, the GIR could still post new record highs, partly on relatively narrower trade deficits/net imports from year-ago levels by about $1 billion to $2 billion per month,” he said.

Exports rose by 2.2% to $6.22 billion in September, the first expansion in seven months, while merchandise imports were still down by 16.5% to $7.92 billion.

The trade deficit narrowed to $1.71 billion that month from $3.41 billion a year ago.

Mr. Ricafort said the expected increase in remittances from migrant Filipino workers in time for the Christmas season could further push reserve levels to a new record.

“The GIR could also post new record highs in view of more proceeds of foreign borrowings by the government especially for various COVID-19 programs and by the private sector that entail foreign investors in the coming months amid near record low interest rates,” he added.

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