Asia stocks rally on Europe central bank debt plan

Asian stock markets rallied Friday, boosted by strong advances on Wall Street and a highly anticipated plan to assist debt-riddled countries in the eurozone.

Markets surged after the European Central Bank announced it was creating a new bond-buying program under which the bank will buy government bonds with maturities of one to three years. There will be no limits to the amount of purchases it can make.

The program is intended to keep the short-term borrowing rates of countries like Italy and Spain at manageable levels, giving them time to enact debt reduction measures and economic reforms.

Wall Street surged after the plan was announced. The Standard & Poor's 500 index soared to its highest level since January 2008, and the Dow Jones industrial average hit its highest mark since December 2007.

In early trading, Japan's Nikkei 225 index jumped 1.7 percent to 8,824.02. Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 1.7 percent to 19,528.78 and South Korea's Kospi bolted up 2 percent to 1,918.76.

In Europe, Germany's DAX rallied to close 2.9 percent higher at 7,167.33 while the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares rose 2.1 percent to 5,777.34.

Investors are also keeping an eye on a raft of U.S. economic data ahead of Friday's closely watched nonfarm payrolls report for August.

"With a series of positive news and stabilized sentiment, risk-on mood will likely filter through to the Asian session. The main focus today will be the US jobs report," analysts at Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong said in a report.

Benchmark oil for October delivery fell 66 cents to $94.87 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 17 cents to finish at $95.53.

In currencies, the euro fell to $1.2632 from $1.2643 late Thursday in New York. The dollar fell to 78.89 yen from 78.95 yen.