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June 27, 2017

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Draghi unveils fresh euro bailout package

LONDON -- Markets remained relatively buoyant Thursday after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi unveiled a fresh package of measures designed to ease the strains in Europe's debt crisis.

Stocks, as well as the euro and the price of oil, have generally enjoyed a bumper six weeks or so after Draghi said the ECB would do "whatever it takes" to save the euro.

On Thursday, after the ECB's monthly policy decision, Draghi confirmed that the central bank was creating a new bond-buying program, called Outright Monetary Transactions. The so-called OMT, which will replace the previous program, will see the ECB buying bonds between one and three years and will have no limits.

Countries that have their bonds bought will have to accept certain conditions, that will be part-monitored by the International Monetary Fund. The bond purchases will not increase the money supply in the 17-country eurozone.

Most of the details that were announced had been widely-anticipated so the market response was limited. However, stocks and the euro came off earlier highs as investors booked some gains from earlier sharp increases.

"We are not hearing much different during the press conference from Mario Draghi than was leaked ahead of the meeting," said Andrew Wilkinson, chief economic strategist at Miller Tabak & Co.

In Europe, Germany's DAX was up 1 percent at 7,034 while the CAC-40 in France rose 1 percent to 3,440. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was 0.6 percent higher at 5,690.

The euro was down 0.01 percent at US$1.2586.

The program announced Thursday is intended to keep the lid on the short-term borrowing rates of countries like Italy and Spain, giving them time to enact austerity measures as well as economic reforms.

Many analysts remain skeptical that the approach will work in the long-run given that there will be strict conditions on countries that have their bond purchased. In addition, the ECB is likely to insist that any purchases are offset by the sale of financial assets elsewhere.

"In essence it seems like a short-dated variation of the previous program, but on steroids, and that wasn't exactly a resounding success," said Michael Hewson, markets analyst at CMC Markets.

As well as keeping a close watch on developments in Europe, investors have kept one eye on a raft of U.S. economic data ahead of Friday's closely watched nonfarm payrolls report for August. Thursday's weekly jobless claims and a private payrolls report from ADP indicate that Friday's figures may be better than anticipated.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 224.61 points, or 1.72 percent, at 13,272.09. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 24.85 points, or 1.77 percent, at 1,428.29. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 54.52 points, or 1.78 percent, at 3,123.78.

Earlier, stock markets in Asia wavered before posting modest gains.

Japan's Nikkei 225 closed marginally higher at 8,680.57. Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.3 percent to 19,209.30. South Korea's KOSPI gained 0.4 percent to 1,881.24, boosted by tech shares.

Mainland China's Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.7 percent to 2,051.92 while the smaller Shenzhen Composite Index added 1 percent to 859.30.

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