Global stock markets surged in a "Santa Claus rally" on Thursday as dealers welcomed the outcome of the US Federal Reserve meeting which signalled an interest rate increase was not imminent.
Oil prices also rose strongly after recent volatility, while the euro fell to $1.2275 from $1.2343 late on Wednesday in New York.
In mid-afternoon trading, London's benchmark FTSE 100 index jumped 1.40 percent to stand at 6,425.10 points.
British retail sales rose strongly in November from a month earlier as shoppers snapped up bargains on 'Black Friday' ahead of the festive season, official data showed on Thursday.
In Paris the CAC 40 soared by more than 3.0 percent before settling back to a gain of 2.98 percent at 4.234,61 points compared with Wednesday's closing. Frankfurt's DAX 30 rallied 2.19 percent to 9,753.32 points.
Markets are "awash with positivity, following oil's creep above $60 per barrel, the US Fed showing faith in the US economy, and the Swiss Central Bank slashing its interest rates", said Connor Campbell, analyst at traders Spreadex.
The Fed on Wednesday left its key interest rate, the federal funds rate, at the 0-0.25 percent level, where it has been for six years to help the US emerge from deep recession.
The US central bank left in place market expectations that it may raise interest rates only in the middle of 2015, downplaying speculation that a hike might come earlier because of the strength of the US economy.
The outcome of the meeting stoked talk of a "Santa Claus rally." Five minutes into trade on Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average stood at 17,536.87, up 1.04 percent.
The broad-based S&P 500 jumped 1.11 percent to 2,035.20, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index gained 1.19 percent to 4,699.51.
Asian markets also mostly rallied, with investors reversing a recent sell-off.
In oil trading, US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for January delivery rose 37 cents to $56.84 a barrel. Meanwhile, Brent North Sea crude for February won 70 cents to $61.88 per barrel.
A fresh drop in oil prices earlier this week had sparked turmoil on global stock markets where investors were concerned about the effect on oil firms as well as the crude-dependent economy of Russia.
Russia, a key oil producer which does not belong to OPEC, is also straining under Western sanctions over Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin however sought to allay fears of economic collapse, saying Thursday the downturn would last two years at most.
- Saudi oil -
Saudi Arabia, the largest producer in the OPEC oil cartel, cannot reduce its output if it wants to maintain its market share, the kingdom's oil minister said on Thursday despite plunging prices.
Ali al-Nuaimi added that commodity price fluctuations are to be expected, and he expressed optimism for the future despite crude's price drop of about 50 percent since June.
"It is difficult, or even impossible, for Saudi Arabia or OPEC to undertake any measure that would lead to a reduction in (their) share of the market and an increase in that of others" who do not belong to the cartel, he was quoted as saying by the official Saudi Press Agency.
"Price fluctuations in commodities, including oil, are normal," the minister added.
He said he is "optimistic for the future because the situation that we and the world currently face is temporary."
Crude prices traded above $100 a barrel earlier this year but have slumped to multi-year lows since June in the face of a global supply glut, a strong dollar and slower growth in demand.
Prices plunged even further after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) decided last month against cutting production.
The cartel pumps about 30 percent of global crude.
Switzerland's central bank meanwhile announced Thursday it was introducing negative interest rates to stop the franc getting any stronger, after the Russian ruble crisis sent investors pouring their investments into the safe haven currency.