"In many respects, yesterday's package of measures from the ECB exceeded expectations. Certainly, the 20 billion euro increase in monthly asset purchases to 80 billion euro and extension to non-bank corporate paper was at the upper range of predictions for the quantitative easing program," said head of economic research at Daiwa Capital Markets, Chris Scicluna.
"And the innovative nature of the new TLTRO II (targeted longer-term refinancing operations) program, whereby banks will be incentivized to lend into the real economy with the carrot of being paid to borrow from the ECB, should be more effective at the margin at supporting bank lending," he said.
Oil prices registered strong gains, aided by a weaker dollar as the euro managed to hang onto gains seen on Thursday, after ECB President Mario Draghi hinted that rates may have reached a floor.
In U.S. economic news, February import prices declined 0.3 percent, while export prices fell 0.4 percent.