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Tokyo, Shanghai shares end at new highs

Asian stocks rose on Tuesday, with markets in Tokyo, Shanghai and Seoul ending the session at new highs, as investors focused on a flurry of central bank meetings.

A positive finish on Wall Street overnight underpinned gains. Stocks rose more than 1 percent as investors cheered a pause in the U.S. dollar's rally and eyed renewed weakness in oil prices.

Asia's calendar

The Bank of Japan left its massive monetary stimulus program unchanged on Tuesday in a widely expected move. At a news conference, Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kurodo said the central bank could not "rule out" the possibility of prices dipping below zero but added that such declines would be short-lived given the bank's massive monetary stimulus.

Meanwhile, Bank Indonesia (BI) ended a meeting with a decision to leave monetary policy unchanged, following an unexpected interest rate cut in February. The benchmark Jakarta Composite closed up 0.07 percent, while the rupiah hovered near its lowest level since September 1998 at 13,208 per dollar.

Read MoreBankIndonesia to soothe investors' nerves

Beyond Asia, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) commences its two-day monthly meeting and markets will be watching whether the U.S. central bank will eliminate the word "patient" from its post-meeting statement, paving the way for an interest rate hike this year.

Symbol
Name
Price
 
Change
%Change
NIKKEI
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HSI
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ASX 200
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SHANGHAI
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KOSPI
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CNBC 100
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Nikkei jumps 1%

Japan's Nikkei 225 index finished at a fresh 15-year high on the back of expectations that companies could improve their return on equity (ROE), while the yen was little changed at 121.3 against the dollar following the BOJ's policy decision.

Hitachi and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries advanced 4.3 and 1.8 percent, respectively, after the Nikkei business daily reported that the companies planned to lift ROE above 10 percent.

Fanuc, a key contributor to the index's rally last week, resumed its upswing with shares rallying 2.2 percent after falling 0.6 percent in the previous session.

Among blue-chips, Sony led the gains with a rise of 4.3 percent, while Toshiba and Canon rallied 2.5 and 1.9 percent each.

Shanghai 1.6% higher

China's Shanghai Composite surged in final-hour trading to close at a fresh seven-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, China's largest stock brokerage which filed for a Hong Kong share offering on Tuesday, was the top gainer, up 4.4 percent. 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.

Kospi gains 2.2%

An upbeat performance among index heavyweights and brokerages led South Korea's Kospi index to finish at a five-and-a-half-month high on Tuesday.

Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors gained 3.7 and 2.7 percent, respectively, as the won remained near a 20-month low. Tech players such as Samsung Electronics and Samsung SDI rose 1.8 and 4.2 percent each.

Meanwhile, Daewoo Securities and Hyundai Securities rocketed 7.6 and 4.8 percent each.

Singapore Airlines confirmed early Tuesday that it is in talks to take a stake in South Korean low-cost carrier Jeju Air. Shares of AK Holdings, the airline's holding firm, tanked 3.6 percent.

STI slips 0.1%

Singapore's Straits Times index closed almost 0.2 percent lower, reversing direction from a one-week high earlier in the session, following news that the health condition of Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's founding father, has worsened. The Singapore dollar also pared gains to trade at 1.3899 per dollar.