Shanghai 1.6% higher

China’s Shanghai Composite surged in final-hour trading to close at a fresh five-year high of 3,503, fueled by expectations for further stimulus in the world’s second-largest economy. Risk-on sentiment was ignited after Premier Li Keqiang said that Beijing has room and the tools to step in should growth falter and impact employment. The comments were made at the conclusion of the annual parliamentary session over the weekend.

Brokerages led advances; Huatai Securities was the top gainer, up 4.4 percent, while Haitong Securities and Citic Securities rose over 2 percent each.

Petrochina rose 2.6 percent despite news that its vice chairman Liao Yongyuan was being investigated for “serious disciplinary violations.”

In Hong Kong, global luggage manufacturer Samsonite fell over 1 percent, erasing earlier gains, despite reporting a 5.8 percent increase in 2014 net profit. Meanwhile, the broader Hang Seng index retreated from a one-week high to slip 0.2 percent.

ASX rises 0.8%

Australia’s S&P ASX 200 index advanced amid a broad-based rally, with markets showing little reaction to minutes from the Reserve Bank of Australia’s (RBA) last policy meeting.

In focus was BHP Billiton, whose shares rose 1.3 percent after releasing details about the performance and quality of its South32 spin-off. Fortescue Metals pared gains to drop 2 percent following news that it is launching a $ 2.5 billion bond offer.

Oil-related counters rose despite crude oil prices hovering near six-year lows; Oil Search and Woodside Petroleum climbed 0.8 and 1.8 percent, respectively, while Santos increased 3 percent.