Mexico sees peso at three-year low, offers USD30 billion coverage

MEXICO CITY (AP) – The Mexican peso sank to a three-year low against the US dollar, prompting the country’s central bank to increase auctions of peso coverage contracts to up to USD30 billion.

The country’s stock market indexes also suffered some of their worst one-day falls since the 2008 economic crisis, with the IPC index closing down 6.42 per cent on Monday at 38,730.

The peso closed on Monday at an inter-bank rate of 21.18 to USD1, the lowest rate since January 26, 2017.

The Bank of Mexico and the Treasury Department attributed the peso’s decline to the drop in world oil prices and economic fallout from coronavirus outbreaks around the globe.

The central bank said on Monday it was increasing the total amount available for auctions of peso coverage from the previous USD20 billion to USD30 billion “to maintain the orderly functioning of exchange markets”.

The peso had traded as high as 18.57 to USD1 just three weeks ago on February 17.

The peso had largely appreciated against the dollar since President Andrés Manuel López Obrador took office, a fact he often pointed to with pride.

López Obrador said on Monday that “there is a drop in oil prices that affects us, that devalued the peso, but we think we are going to recover”.

He said he was “optimistic” because of Mexico’s good fiscal balance and currency reserves, and because “we are now producing more oil, with a tendency to greater production”.