European markets rallied to close higher on Thursday after the European Central Bank (ECB) announced a full-scale bond-buying program. The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 (FTSE International: .FTEU3) provisionally closed 1.6 percent higher at 1,453.28 points-its highest closing level since early 2008, according to Reuters. The U.K.’s benchmark FTSE (FTSE International: .FTSE) index ended unofficially 1.0 percent higher, while the French CAC (Euronext Paris: .FCHI) and German DAX (^GDAXI) closed around 1.7 percent and 1.4 percent higher respectively. The ECB’s program will be open-ended, but will last until at least September 2016, said Draghi in his regular press conference. Corporate and government bonds will be purchased to the tune of 60 billion euros ($ 69 billion) a month. The program will start in March this year. Sovereign bond purchases will be subject to risk-sharing arrangements, to minimize the risk on the ECB’s balance sheet. . “Today’s monetary policy decisions on additional asset purchases was taken to counter two unfavorable developments. First, inflation dynamics have continued to be weaker than expected,” Draghi said. “Second, while the monetary policy measures adopted between June and September last year resulted in material improvement in terms if financial market prices, this was not the case for the quantitative results.” Read More Open-ended European QE starts ‘with a bang’ The euro (Exchange:EUR=) fell on the news to around 1.142 against the dollar on Draghi’s announcement, while U.S. stocks rose.

A QE announcement on Thursday had been much anticipated.

“It was telegraphed for so long that they were going to do something in terms of QE. Investors are skeptical about how effective QE is anyway,” Bruce Bittles, chief investment strategist at RW Baird, said.

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