THE Philippines’ gross international reserves (GIR) rose 0.75 percent to $81.30 billion at the end of February from $80.69 billion in January, the central bank said on Monday, tracing the increase to higher gold prices on the global market.
The reserves were up 0.57 percent from $80.84 billion in February 2015.
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) traced the increase to revaluation adjustments to BSP’s foreign-currency denominated reserves and gold holdings “resulting from the increase in the price of gold in the international market,” it said in a statement.
The higher GIR at end-February was also attributed to net foreign currency deposits by the national government and central bank’s income from investments abroad.
These were partially offset by outflows from central bank’s foreign exchange operations and from national government’s payments of maturing obligations.
The latest GIR level is enough to cover 10.4 months of merchandise imports and payments of services and income, higher than the previous month’s import cover of 10.3 months.
The end-February dollar reserves are also equivalent to 5.7 times the country’s short-term external debt based on original maturity and 4.1 times based on residual maturity.
“The build up in GIR is a good sign that the we are recovering from depletion in recent months,” said Bank of the Philippine Islands lead economist and vice president, Emilio Neri Jr.
Neri suggested that the BSP could work to bring back GIR to the record high of $83 billion or even higher ahead of the expected US Federal Reserve rate hikes through 2018 or beyond. The BSP expects the country’s foreign reserves to reach $82.7 billion by yearend.