Mexico sees peso at 3-year low, offers $30 billion coverage


Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (L) speaks next to the Head of Financial Intelligence Unit of the Secretariat of Finance and Public Credit (SHCP), Santiago Nieto, during a press conference at the National Palace in Mexico City on March 4, 2020. – Lopez Obrador compared the Mexican peso to the US dollar in times of the coronavirus epidemic, while Nieto talked about blocking bank accounts of the religious leader of the Light of the World church, Nasson Joaquin Garcia. (Photo by Alfredo ESTRELLA / AFP) (Photo by ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP via Getty Images)

MEXICO CITY (AP) — The Mexican peso sank to a 3-year low against the U.S. dollar, prompting the country’s central bank to increase auctions of peso coverage contracts to up to $30 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% Monday at 38,730.

The peso closed Monday at an inter-bank rate of 21.18 to $1, 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 Monday it was increasing the total amount available for auctions of peso coverage from the previous $20 billion to $30 billion “to maintain the orderly functioning of exchange markets.”

The peso had traded as high as 18.57 to $1 just three weeks ago on Feb. 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 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.”

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