UPDATE 8.20am: The normally cautious head of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, gave his most resounding defence of the under-siege currency to date, sending markets around the world solidly into positive territory and lifting the euro.
The Paris CAC 40 leapt 4.07 per cent to 3,207.12 points and Frankfurt's DAX 30 rose 2.75 per cent to 6582.96 points. London's benchmark FTSE 100 index was slightly more subdued up 1.36 per cent to 5.573.16 points.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished 212.88 points (1.67 per cent) higher at 12,887.93.
IG Markets analyst Stan Shamu said the Australian market had followed the overseas leads.
“The main driver was the comments by the ECB president Mario Draghi who, basically, suggested they would do everything in their power to keep the euro intact,” he said.
“That drove risk assets overnight with gains for the euro, the Australian dollar and some commodities and that has filtered through to the opening of our session.”
Locally, Caltex shares dropped 33 cents to $13.93 at 1037 after Standard & Poor's put Caltex's credit ratings on a negative watch after the company announced it would close its Kurnell refinery.
S&P said it was concerned about Caltex possibly needing to raise money for its proposed supply chain restructure, saying such a move could pressure the company's credit metrics in the next few years.
Billabong shares gained 0.25 cents to $1.35 at 1039 after the retailer said US private equity firm TPG's $1.45 a share takeover offer undervalued the company.
The mining giants and the four major banks were all higher at open.
BHP Billiton was up 16 cents to $31.15, Fortescue was 15 cents higher to $4.15 and Rio Tinto was up 88 cents to $51.39. ANZ was up 21 cents at $22.97, National Australia Bank was 16 cents higher at $24.00, Westpac had gained 20 cents to $22.81 and Commonwealth Bank had added 37 cents to $55.78.
National turnover was 280 million securities worth $2.122 billion, with 400 stocks up, 116 down and 174 unchanged.