US stock markets leap higher

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(Close): US stock markets leapt higher in Thursday trading, boosted by hopes of more stimulus in the eurozone.

The Dow Jones jumped 1.84%, or 323.35 points, to 17,907.87, while the broader S&P 500 climbed 36.24 points, or 1.79%, to 2,062.14.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq gained 85.72 points, or 1.84%, to 4,736.19.

It follows gains in Europe as speculation increased that the European Central Bank may launch a plan to buy government bonds to help the economy.

Investors were also encouraged by Wednesday's minutes from the Federal Reserve in which it indicated that a rate rise before April would be unlikely.