October 29, 2018 / 3:54 PM / 14 days ago

UPDATE 1-South African rand firms on emerging markets rally; stocks up

* Naspers down nearly 4 pct to 15-month lows

* Government bonds also firmer (Adds latest prices, quotes)

JOHANNESBURG, Oct 29 (Reuters) - South Africa’s rand firmed on Monday, in line with other emerging market currencies, which have slowly restored gains after recent sharp losses.

Stocks bounced back as banks surged, offsetting market heavyweight Naspers which fell to 15-month lows.

The rand was 0.53 percent stronger at 14.5100 per dollar at 1549 GMT, compared to a close of 14.5825 in New York on Friday.

“Emerging markets are on the front foot. We’re seeing a rebound after the rand got beaten up last week from a negative market reaction on the mini budget,” said ETM economist Halen Bothma.

“The market is now looking at the bigger picture and seeing that the sharp sell-off last week was not justified.”

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni predicted wider budget deficits and cut growth forecasts in his medium-term budget on Wednesday, laying bare the challenges he faces at a time of revenue shortfalls and ballooning debt.

The rand, which hit a session high of 14.4175 on Monday, trimmed some of its gains after news that German Chancellor Angela Merkel would not seek re-election hurt appetite for risk on global markets.

Government bonds were also firmer, with the yield on the benchmark government bond due in 2026 was down 8.5 basis points to 9.245 percent.

In equities, the all share index soared 0.95 percent to 51,321 points while the blue chip top 40 index was 1.03 percent firmer at 45,110 points.

Naspers dampened market gains, sinking 3.98 percent to July 2017 levels at 2,457 rand, after Hong Kong-listed gaming firm Tencent Holdings, in which it has a 31 percent stake, sunk to 17-month lows on Monday.

Banks rose 3.96 percent with Nedbank, which became the latest firm to drop the scandal-hit KPMG’s local unit, closing 4.10 percent firmer.

“There has been a lot of buying back into financials and banks. Investors seem to be encouraged by the investment announcements made on Friday,” said Greg Davies, equities trader at Cratos Capital.

Global firms pledged to invest a total of 290 billion rand ($20 billion) at a conference hosted by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday. This was in addition to already secured pledges for some $35 billion.

MTN closed 3.27 percent firmer after saying no further negative action had been taken by Nigerian authorities and engagements about the $10.1 billion demanded by authorities were ongoing.

$1 = 14.4869 rand Reporting by Patricia Aruo and Nomvelo Chalumbira Editing by James Macharia

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