PH foreign reserves hit 6-mth high

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The Philippines’ gross international reserves (GIR) in April hit the highest level in six months, driven by the central bank’s foreign currency operations and income from investments abroad, as well as deposits by the national government and higher prices of gold.

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Net international reserves—the difference between the GIR and total short-term liabilities—rose to $81.8 billion from $80.88 billion in March.

Gross reserves stood at $80.81 billion as of end-April, a 1.14 percent increase from $80.89 billion in March, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said in a statement released with the latest official data on Friday.

The April level marked the highest since the GIR reached $85.10 billion in October 2016. However, it was down 2.29 percent from $83.73 billion in April 2016. The BSP offered no explanation in the statement.

The GIR is the sum of the country’s transactions with the rest of the world, which consist of the reserve position with the International Monetary Fund, foreign exchange holdings, gold reserves, special drawing rights (SDRs) and foreign investments.

Import cover

The country’s foreign reserves in April were enough to cover nine months worth of imports, up from 8.9 months in March and from 10 months a year earlier, the central bank said.

Driving up the GIR in April from the month earlier were inflows arising from the BSP’s foreign exchange operations and net foreign currency deposits by the national government.

Inflows from revaluation adjustments in the BSP’s gold holdings as a result of higher gold prices in the international market, and income from the central bank’s investment abroad also provided an additional boost, although the inflows were partially offset by payments made by the national government for maturing foreign exchange obligations.

Against the country’s foreign debt, the GIR is equivalent to 5.4 times the short-term external obligations due within one year and 3.7 times based on residual maturity, the BSP said.

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