Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Peso closes at strongest level against the US dollar in 7 1/2 years

There’s no stopping the Mexican peso: the currency appreciated again on Friday to reach its strongest level against the US dollar in seven and a half years.

Bank of Mexico data shows that one greenback was worth 17.05 pesos at the close of markets, and just 17.02 pesos at one point earlier in the day.

The latter exchange rate was the strongest position for the peso since December 2015.

The peso appreciated almost six centavos, or about 0.34% on Friday, after the dollar closed at just above 17.11 pesos on Thursday. The cumulative appreciation this week was 1.24%, after the peso hit a new seven-year high last week.

The Mexican currency has now strengthened about 12.6% against the dollar this year.

The latest appreciation came after the United States Federal Reserve decided on Wednesday to leave its key interest rate at a range of 5%-5.25%. That decision followed 10 consecutive interest rate hikes in the U.S.

bank of mexico
The U.S. dollar was worth 17.02 pesos at one point on Friday, although markets closed at 17.05 pesos, Banxico data showed. (Government of Mexico)

The Fed signaled that two more increases are likely this year. Nevertheless, the dollar is weakening “amid bets on a prompt end” to the monetary policy tightening cycle in the U.S., the newspaper El Economista reported.

High interest rates in Mexico — the central bank’s benchmark rate is currently 11.25% — is seen as one factor that has contributed to the peso’s positive performance this year. Strong incoming flows of foreign capital and remittances are among the other factors cited by analysts.

Gabriela Siller, director of economic analysis at the Mexican bank Banco Base, said on Twitter that the peso responded positively today to Fitch Ratings’ decision to keep Mexico’s sovereign credit rating at BBB- with a stable outlook.

“A rating cut and possible loss of investment was one of the great fears [during] this administration, together with the loss of autonomy of the Bank of Mexico. Although important institutions of Mexico have been weakened and the economy took a long time to recover from the decline caused by the pandemic, the [ongoing] autonomy of the Bank of Mexico and the investment-grade credit rating provide certainty to international investors,” she wrote.

“This, together with the golden opportunity of nearshoring — that we’re not taking full advantage of — provide a good outlook for the peso,” she added.

Siller also said that the peso has demonstrated a “pattern of behavior” since July last year in which it appreciates about 7% against the dollar over a period of two months before depreciating by around 4%.

If that pattern continues, “the peso could appreciate to 16.74 pesos to the dollar in July and then [move] to 17.5 … [before] appreciating again to a level close to 16.4. This would happen if there is no event or news that generates fear about the world or Mexico,” she wrote.

With reports from El Economista, Forbes México and USA Today

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