European stocks rallied and borrowing rates for Spain and Italy slid Thursday as markets hailed exceptional bond-buying measures from the European Central Bank aimed at fighting the debt crisis.
London's FTSE 100 index climbed 1.17 percent to stand at 5,724.09 points, as traders also digested the Bank of England's decision to keep record-low rates unchanged.
But other leading markets surged even further after the European Central Bank announced a highly anticipated programme to ease sovereign borrowing prices.
In Frankfurt the DAX 30 jumped 2.01 percent to 7,104.47 points, while in Paris the CAC 40 won 2.53 percent to 3,492.08 points.
In Spain and Italy, currently the flashpoints of the debt crisis, Madrid advanced 3.03 percent and Milan gained 3.00 percent.
In foreign exchange deals, the euro slid lower to $1.2575 from $1.2600 late in New York on Wednesday.
"The ECB did not disappoint in its decision to start a vast bond purchase programme," said Marie Diron, senior economic adviser to the Ernst & Young Eurozone Forecast.
"While we had little doubt that such a programme would be announced, some of the details go beyond what we expected," she said.
US stocks also surged higher in opening trade Thursday after the ECB announcement and encouraging US jobs data.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average soared 0.96 percent in the first two minutes of trade, the S&P 500 index advanced 0.88 percent, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq jumped 0.88 percent.
In a widely-anticipated bid to save the euro, ECB president Mario Draghi said the central bank would buy unlimited volumes of short-term eurozone government bonds.
Draghi unveiled a new central bank instrument known as Outright Monetary Transactions (OMTs) in secondary markets for sovereign bonds, but stressed that governments would also have to fulfill strict conditions for the ECB to intervene.
The programme, which would replace a previous much-contested one called SMP, would cover sovereign bonds with maturities of up to three years, Draghi told a news conference.
The bank has set no limit to the volume of bonds it will purchase under the new programme, he added.
Berenberg Bank economist Holger Schmieding commented that "after one year in which the ECB allowed turmoil in sovereign bond markets to obstruct the transmission of its monetary policy, the ECB is now addressing the core issue in the eurozone crisis.
"By turning itself into an 'effective backstop' for countries that meet tight conditions on fiscal repair and pro-growth reforms, the ECB signalled today more clearly and in much more detail than before that it will not let any solvent euro member go bust."
Spanish and Italian borrowing costs tumbled after the announcement.
In afternoon trade, the yield -- or rate of return -- on benchmark Spanish 10-year government bonds plunged to 6.065 percent from 6.409 percent on Wednesday, while the rate for comparable Italian bonds dropped to 5.315 percent from 5.514 percent.
The fourth-largest economy in the eurozone, Spain recently received a 100-billion-euro ($126-billion) rescue for its banks, while many analysts expect the country's government will soon have to request a bailout.
Asian stock markets closed higher on Thursday, with Tokyo edging up 0.01 percent, Seoul advancing 0.38 percent and Sydney gaining 0.80 percent.