NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- New record highs were in sight for U.S. stocks after the European Central Bank announced it had started buying asset-backed securities in a move to ease monetary policy and resuscitate growth in the eurozone.
S&P 500 futures were up 0.8%, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were gaining 0.82%, and Nasdaq futures were climbing 0.77%. If momentum can be sustained through to the market close, the S&P and Dow will notch new record closing highs after lifting the bar again on Thursday and close out its fifth week of gains.
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European markets were rocketing higher, with Germany's DAX gaining as much as 2.1%, as the ECB made its announcement via Twitter.
"Following publication of legal act on the implementation of the ABS purchase programme, the Eurosystem has started the purchases on 21/11/2014," the central bank said.
Markets were already on a tear after ECB President Mario Draghi talked of monetary easing policies in a speech. Addressing a banking conference in Frankfurt, Draghi said the eurozone's inflation was proving challenging and that the ECB was prepared to do "what we must to raise inflation and inflation expectations as fast as possible."
Boosting Asian markets, China cut its interest rates by 25 basis points, its first rate cut in two years, as a solution to stalled growth in the world's second-largest economy. The move comes a day after the country's latest manufacturing PMI numbers fell to a six-month low. The Shanghai Composite closed 1.4% higher.
The dual news sent oil prices rocketing higher. West Texas Intermediate crude futures for January delivery spiked 1.7% to $77.16 a barrel. Oil prices have been down in the dumps over the past few weeks as global oversupply outstripped demand.
Investors are likely to focus Friday on the news overseas since the domestic economic calendar is bare.
Foot Locker (FL) reported a 7% jump in sales and beat earnings estimates. Shares of the sports retailer were up 3.2% in premarket trading.
GameStop (GME) was plunging 9.9% after the games retail chain reported a 2.3% drop in comparable-store sales, due to the delayed launch of popular game "Assassins Creed Unity."
Splunk (SPLK) was popping 8.7% after issuing stronger-than-expected guidance for its fourth quarter.
Auction house Sotheby's (BID) was spiking 8.1% after announcing its search for a new CEO. Current CEO William Ruprecht will remain in the seat until the position is filled.
-- Written by Keris Alison Lahiff in New York.