US markets
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)Getty

US equity markets began the final session of the week as investors digested the ramifications of the latest stimulus programme by the European Central Bank, while oil prices moved higher.

Shortly after the opening bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 1.01% to 17,167.37, while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq were 1.02% and 1.08% higher respectively after Wall Street had closed the previous session largely unchanged.

"Equity markets have had a change of heart," said Michael Van Dulken, head of research at Accendo Markets. "After initially surging on yesterday's ECB headlines they subsequently sold off hard on [ECB president Mario] Draghi's 'no more rate cuts' comment – how very short-sighted. They have since recovered after realising that Super Mario still delivered more than markets were anticipating."

Oil prices gain

Oil prices reversed Thursday's losses and gained ground, with both benchmarks rising more than 1%. West Texas Intermediate rose 1.51% to $38.42 (£26.94, €34.64) a barrel, while Brent crude climbed 1.18% to $40.53 a barrel.

Crude prices and energy-related stocks could, however, move later in the session as a Baker Hughes report on North America's oil and gas rig count is expected to be released at 1pm ET (6pm GMT).

Elsewhere, Asian stocks all closed higher, with the Shanghai Composite Index gaining 0.20% and Japan's Nikkei 225 rising 0.51%. Their European counterparts fared even better and were all firmly in the black by mid-afternoon, with London's FTSE 100 up 1.76%, while Germany's Dax and France's CAC 40 rose 3.28% and 3.16% respectively.

On the company front, Ulta Salon Cosmetics & Fragrance soared after the cosmetics retailer later posted better-than-expected quarterly earnings and guidance, leading JP Morgan Chase to raise its price target for the stock to $231 from $215.

Meanwhile, shares in El Pollo Loco plunged more than 10% after the restaurant chain posted disappointing earnings late on 10 March.