Forexpros – Asian stock markets were broadly higher on Monday, as market sentiment strengthened amid hopes that European policymakers will boost efforts to tackle the region’s ongoing debt crisis.

During late Asian trade, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index climbed 0.65%, Australia’s ASX/200 Index rose 0.8%, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index gained 0.6%.

Over the weekend, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti's cabinet outlined a EUR30 billion three-year austerity plan aimed at reducing the country's budget deficit.

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy were to meet in Paris later in the day in order to prepare for Friday’s key summit of European Union leaders.

Shares in the financial sector performed strongly in Japan. Investment banks Nomura Holdings and Daiwa Securities, which have large exposure to European sovereign debt, jumped 2.75% and 1.6% respectively, while the nation’s largest lender Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group added 2.1%.

Japanese exporters were broadly higher after official data Friday showed that the U.S. unemployment rate dropped unexpectedly to a two-and-a-half year low of 8.6% in November, as the U.S. economy created 120,000 new jobs.

Automaker Toyota saw shares climb 2.65%, semiconductor manufacturer Elpida Memory jumped 4.1%, while Fuji Heavy Industries, which counts North America as its largest growing market rose 2.75%

Elsewhere, in Hong Kong, shares in raw material producers led gains, tracking commodity prices higher. Oil giants PetroChina and CNOOC saw shares rise 1.3% and 1.1% respectively, while Aluminum Corporation of China saw shares add 0.9%.

Hong Kong-based retailers also contributed to gains. Shares of Li & Fung, which is the world’s biggest supplier of toys to major U.S. retailers, advanced 3.4%, while shares in Esprit Holdings, which counts Europe as its largest market climbed 2.55%.

Meanwhile, in Australia shares in uranium producers rallied after Prime Minister Julia Gillard's Labor Party ended a ban on uranium exports to India. Shares in Energy Resources of Australia surged 9.8%, while Paladin Energy shares climbed 2.4%.

The outlook for European stock markets was upbeat. The EURO STOXX 50 futures pointed to a gain of 1.2%, France’s CAC 40 futures rose 1.1%, the FTSE 100 futures gained 0.6%, while Germany's DAX futures added 1.15%.

Later in the day, the euro zone was to produce a report on investor confidence, as well as official data on retail sales. In the U.S., the Institute of Supply Management was to release a report on service sector activity.