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Asia shares up on optimism over trade talks, stimulus

SYDNEY: Asian share markets firmed on Monday as investors dared to hope for both progress at Sino-U.S. trade talks in Washington this week and more policy stimulus from major central banks.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan added 0.3 percent, partially recovering from a sharp fall last Friday.  Japan's Nikkei climbed 1.6 percent to hit its highest for the year so far, while Australia's main index rose 0.7 percent. E-Mini futures for the S&P 500 were flat, with trade thinned by a holiday in U.S. markets.

Saudi crown prince's US$20bil Pakistan investment pledge

ISLAMABAD: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Sunday said Saudi Arabia has signed investment agreements worth US$20 billion during his high-profile visit to Pakistan, where tensions were flaring up with nuclear-armed rival India.

Left: Khan (R) greets Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on his arrival at Pakistan Air Force (PAF) Nur Khan Base in Rawalpindi. Right : Khan (L) drives a vehicle as he receives Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on his arrival at the Nur Khan Base. - Reuters

S’pore plans cautious budget with an eye on election

SINGAPORE: Singapore Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat will aim to strike a delicate balance in today’s budget: preaching fiscal prudence while doling out more social spending ahead of elections that could come as early as this year.

While not expected to be as headline-grabbing as last year – when Heng flagged a hike in the goods and services tax – the 2019 budget will cover a range of familiar policy priorities. Infrastructure spending, more healthcare support for a rapidly aging population, and help for firms transitioning in a digital economy were top-of-mind for Heng .

Mentors needed for Vietnam’s startups

VIETNAM’S startup ecosystem has a lot of potential and can be a prime market for investment, but many say the quality of startup projects have not met the potential due to these firms’ lack of market-oriented policies and development experience.

Missing component: A startup company introduces its project at a contest in Ho Chi Minh last year. Experts say startup projects have not met their full potential due to lack in experience. — Viet Nam News