The euro came under renewed pressure Friday after the European Central Bank announced a massive 1-trillion-euro (1.12-trillion-dollar) stimulus package, hitting its lowest value against the dollar since September 2003.

European Central Bank
European Central Bank

The euro was trading at 1.1315 dollars during early trading Friday, having lost more than 3 euro cents since Thursday, when it stood at 1.1618 dollars, dpa-AFX reported.

Asian markets reacted positively to the news on Friday: in Tokyo, the Nikkei index of 225 leading companies gained 1.05 per cent to reach 17,511.75 points, while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong saw an uptick of 1.34 per cent to 24,850.45 points.

The ECB announced Thursday that it would buy 60 billion euros worth of state and private assets each month from March 2015 to September 2016 in order to stimulate the faltering eurozone economy.

Meanwhile, the announcement of the death of Saudi King Abdullah pushed oil prices up on international markets after months of decline.

A barrel (159 litres) of the standard North Sea Brent for delivery in March was 1.16 dollars more expensive at 49.68 dollars than the day before. A barrel of West Texas Intermediate rose by 1.01 dollars to 47.32 dollars.

Abdullah’s death has raised concerns about the future direction of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) oil cartel, which decided not to restrict production in November despite rapidly falling prices.

Oil analyst Neil Beveridge of the investment bank Sandford C Bernstein told dpa-AFX that he expected increased volatility in the oil market in the short term. He added that while he did not expect any change in policy in Saudi Arabia, the death had come at a bad time for the oil-rich country.

GNA

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