October 9, 2018 / 4:24 PM / 10 days ago

UPDATE 1-South Africa's rand, banking stocks rally as Mboweni named finance minister

* Rand, bank stocks firm more than one percent

* Mboweni appointment soothes markets after uncertainty (Adds latest figures, analyst quotes)

JOHANNESBURG, Oct 9 (Reuters) - South Africa’s rand climbed to a session best on Tuesday after President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed former central bank governor Tito Mboweni as finance minister, a moved that soothed markets after days of uncertainty.

At 1622 GMT the rand was 1.24 percent firmer at 14.6825, a touch softer than the session best of 14.6525 after the decision.

Bank stocks rose 1.19 percent, as investors welcomed Mboweni’s appointment that eased a week of uncertainty.

Ramaphosa said he received and accepted Nhlanhla Nene’s resignation as finance minister on Tuesday.

Nene faced calls to resign after he admitted visiting the Gupta brothers, friends of scandal-plagued former president Jacob Zuma who have been accused of high-level influence-peddling, and failing to disclose the meetings earlier. Zuma and the Guptas have denied any wrongdoing.

Bonds were also firmer, with the yield on the benchmark paper due in 2026 down 4 basis points 9.22 percent. “Tito brings strength to the position. He is not afraid to go up against other ministers and he also understands the importance of fiscal consolidation which is crucial at this moment,” said Nazmeera Moola of Investec.

Moody’s, the last of the top three rating agencies to have Pretoria’s debt at investment grade, is set to release its latest review on Friday.

In the equities market, the Johannesburg all-share index and the Top-40 index struggled to hold on to gains registered immediately after the appointment of Mboweni, despite the rally by banking stocks.

The All-share inched 0.06 percent lower to 54,187 points and the blue-chip ended the session 0.15 percent weaker at 47,970 points.

First Rand gained 1.95 percent to 62.09 rand, while Absa Group rose 1.54 percent to 148.61 rand. Capitec Bank Holdings firmed 1.44 percent at 991.38 rand.

“The investor community is sad to see Minister Nene go but they are also very happy to see Tito Mboweni come in because he is well known and well respected in the investment community,” FNB Wealth portfolio manager, Wayne McCurrie said.

“The state president has shown that he will act against any indiscretion that impairs the integrity of his appointees in cabinet,” he said. (Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana and Nqobile Dludla Editing by James Macharia)

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