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EMERGING MARKETS-Latam stocks eye best quarter since Q3 2017

By Agamoni Ghosh March 29 (Reuters) - Latin American stocks rose on Friday, on course to post their best quarter since the third quarter of 2017 as optimism over U.S-China trade talks boosted risk appetite, while a softer dollar helped prop up currencies in the region.

MSCI's index of Latin American stocks rose 2.3 percent, with shares on the Bovespa leading gains.

Sao Paulo-traded stocks rose 1.4 percent in broad-based gains with investors keeping a close watch on developments related to the pension reform.

Brazil's president, economy minister and speaker of the lower house of Congress patched things up publicly on Thursday, trying to move past days of finger pointing to focus on passing a thorny pension reform to save the country's public finances.

JBS SA climbed about 4 percent after the meat processing company announced a stronger outlook for 2019 despite posting fourth-quarter results that missed analysts' estimates.

Shares of Embraer rose nearly 1 percent after Brazil's navy selected the domestic aircraft maker, along with German industrial conglomerate Thyssenkrupp, to build four corvettes.

The real rose 0.3 percent. Data showed on Friday that Brazil posted a budget deficit in February of 14.931 billion reais ($3.82 billion) before interest payments, 14 percent smaller than a year earlier.

Mexican stocks were on track to post their third consecutive week of gains while the peso slid more than 1 percent through the week.

Banxico (The Central Bank of Mexico) held its benchmark interest rate steady on Thursday, flagging economic uncertainty and risks surrounding the credit ratings of both state oil company Pemex and the government.

The government has said it will consider using part of a $15.4 billion public income stabilization fund to pay some debt obligations for heavily leveraged state oil company Pemex.

Investors see such frequent capital injections for Pemex from the government's coffers as a temporary fix and believe it is not going to solve the problem for the company, which holds nearly $106 billion in financial debt.

Chile's peso rose 0.6 percent, tracking a gain in the price of copper, the country's main export,, while stocks on the IPSA index were on course to end the quarter on a strong note.

Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 1445 GMT Stock indexes daily % Latest change MSCI Emerging Markets 1057.26 1.15 MSCI LatAm 2749.54 2.35 Brazil Bovespa 95646.10 1.33 Mexico IPC 43146.38 0.48 Chile IPSA 5225.98 0.23 Argentina MerVal 33132.98 0.73 Colombia IGBC 12952.17 0.27 Currencies daily % change Latest Brazil real 3.8875 0.75 Mexico peso 19.2934 0.22 Chile peso 678 0.77 Colombia peso 3163 0.33 Peru sol 3.317 0.09 Argentina peso 43.0800 1.32 (interbank) (Reporting by Agamoni Ghosh; Editing by Dan Grebler)