* FTSEurofirst 300 up 2.4 percent, extending gains
* ECB downgrades inflation view, says bond-buying adjustable
* EasyJet surges on positive profit outlook (Updates with closing prices)
By Alistair Smout
LONDON, Sept 3 (Reuters) - European shares rose sharply on Thursday, extending earlier gains as the European Central Bank delivered a dovish message from its first meeting after weeks of market turmoil.
Shares rallied as the euro fell after ECB President Mario Draghi cut inflation forecasts and said the bank was willing to adjust or extend its bond-buying programme of quantitative easing if necessary.
“Today’s ECB press conference was significantly more downbeat in terms of the outlook for euro zone growth and inflation,” Alastair George, Chief Strategist at Edison Investment Research, said.
“Today’s comments have generated the now-traditional QE effect of putting downward pressure on the currency and upward pressure on bonds and equities.”
The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was up 2.4 percent at 1,428.77 points at the close.
The index remains down more than 10 percent since early August, due to China’s stock market upheavals and the prospects of an imminent U.S. rate hike. However, the market has partially recovered on hopes that central banks will continue to be supportive.
With the focus squarely on the actions of central bankers, investors will keep a close eye on Friday’s U.S. jobs data, which could provide clues about the timing of the Federal Reserve’s likely move to raise interest rates.
Some traders said Friday’s non-farm payrolls data could also come in below expectations after the ADP National Employment Report showed in the previous session that U.S. private employers added a smaller-than-expected 190,000 jobs in August.
Among top risers in the FTSEurofirst 300 index was British low-cost airline easyJet, which jumped 5.4 percent after raising its full-year profit outlook.
However, Flughafen Zurich fell 6.4 percent after the airport operator reported in-line results, with a downgrade at a top-ranked broker cited as the reason for the decline.
EDF dropped 2.2 percent after the French state-controlled utility said the EPR nuclear reactor it is building in Normandy will again be delayed, to 2018. It raised the cost estimate to 10.5 billion euros ($11.9 billion) from an initial budget of 3 billion euros.
Europe bourses in 2015: link.reuters.com/pap87v
Asset performance in 2015: link.reuters.com/gap87v
Today’s European research round-up (Editing by Angus MacSwan)