The European Central Bank has hit the launch button on its 1.1 trillion euro ($1.2 trillion) stimulus program by starting to buy government bonds.

The chief monetary authority for the 19 countries that use the euro confirmed Monday it had begun the purchases, which aim to make credit cheaper, boost growth and raise inflation. ECB President Mario Draghi had announced the start date last week, sending stocks higher and the euro lower.

The bonds are bought from banks and other financial institutions using newly printed money.

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