PH dollar international reserves hit 3-month high at $107 billion

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The country’s gross international reserves (GIR) reached a three-month peak of $107.25 billion at the end of April, thanks to government bond issuances and higher gold prices.

 

According to preliminary data released by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) on Friday, the figure was 2.30 percent and 17.93 percent higher than the $104.48 billion and $90.94 billion recorded at the end of March and a year ago, respectively.

 

The sum at the end of April was the highest level of foreign reserves since the end of January this year, when it was $108.67 billion.

 

The rise in the GIR level month-over-month reflected inflows primarily from the proceeds of the national government’s global and samurai bond issuances, which were deposited with the BSP, according to the central bank.

 

Last December, the national government raised $2.75 billion (roughly P132.13 billion) through a two-tranche offering of US dollar-denominated bonds. Last March, it also secured 55 billion yen ($500 million, or P24.23 billion) in “samurai” bonds.

 

The BSP also stated that, “an upward adjustment in the value of the BSP’s gold holdings due to the increase in the price of gold in the international [market] contributed to the higher GIR level.”

 

Inflows were partly offset by outflows from the national government’s foreign currency debt servicing.

 

The new dollar-reserves amount also “represents a more than adequate external liquidity buffer, which can help cushion the domestic economy against external shocks.”

 

It also covers 12.3 months of imports, which is higher than the 12 months and 8.5 months buffers seen at the end of March and a year ago; 7.5 times the country’s short-term external debt based on original maturity; and 5.2 times based on residual maturity.

 

The disparity between GIR and total short-term liabilities, known as net international reserves, increased to $107.24 billion at the end of April from $104.47 billion a month earlier.

 

These reserves are expected to rise to $106 billion this year, according to the central bank. This equates to 10.9 months of import protection, with current and financial account inflows providing help.

 

However, central bank Governor Benjamin Diokno expects reserves to reach $120 billion by the end of the year.

 

BY MEYNARD DELA CERNA

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