US equity markets gained ground early on Thursday (10 March) boosted by news that the European Central Bank (ECB) will implement fresh stimulus measures to revive the Eurozone's economy.

Shortly after the opening bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.45% to 17,076.04, while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq were 0.47% and 0.67% higher respectively after Wall Street edged higher in the previous session.

ECB delivers

The ECB cut its key lending rate to zero from 0.05% and pushed the rate on its deposit facility to minus 0.4% from minus 0.3%, adding that from next month it will expand the size of its monthly bond purchases to €80bn (£61.8bn, $86.9) from its current level of €60bn.

"The ECB truly out-delivered expectations with a package of monetary easing measures [that] span across the whole range of tools at the committee's disposal," said IG's market analyst Joshua Mahony.

"There was no indecision this time around, with cuts across both the refi and deposit rates. Given the deterioration in inflation, manufacturing, consumer sentiment and financial markets in the past three months, such a drastic shift is justified, yet unexpected nonetheless."

US labour market remains in good health

On the macroeconomic front, jobless claims fell to their lowest level in five months after dropping 18,000 to 259,000 in the week to 5 March compared with analysts' expectations for a decline to 275,000.

Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said: "The key point here is that claims remain close to their cycle – and all-time – lows, signalling no distress at all in the labour market."

Elsewhere, Asian markets endured mixed fortunes, as China's Shanghai Composite Index plunged 2.02%, while Japan's Nikkei 225 gained 1.26%. European equities were also mixed, with France's CAC 40 and Germany's Dax both up around 1% by mid-afternoon, while London's FTSE 100 was 0.35% lower.

Oil prices, meanwhile, reversed the previous session's gains and edged sharply lower, with both benchmarks falling more than 2%. West Texas Intermediate lost 2.22% to $37.46 a barrel, while Brent crude declined 2.83% to $39.94 a barrel.