Fed tapers more, China weighs
The pan-European FTSEurofirst300 provisionally closed higher by 0.2 percent — after seeing losses in four out of the last five sessions. The index is still on course to log a decline this month, its first monthly loss since August.
However, shares received a boost on Thursday after the U.S. Commerce Department reported the U.S. economy expanded 3.2 percent in the fourth quarter on an annualized basis.
U.S. investors also embraced better-than-expected quarterly profits from social-networking company Facebook.
Beyond the GDP data, the Labor Department reported weekly jobless claims rose 19,000 to 348,000 last week, versus an 328,000 estimate.
However, sentiment remained weak, with investors reacting to the Federal Reserve's decision to continue with tapering, and a continuing sell-off in emerging markets.
(Read more: Emerging market rout 'a long time coming': Rhodes)
Ishaq Siddiqi, a market strategist at broker ETX Capital, said the Fed's announcement could boost markets over the longer-term.
"The move by the Fed is welcome in a broader context; the central bank has now set a precedent of how much it will cut by, offering the market a level of clarity and shows commitment that even in the face of some mixed data in January, the Fed has made its mind up and there's no U-turning now," Siddiqi said in a morning note.
Elsewhere, HSBC's final China PMI (purchasing manager's index) fell to a six-month low of 49.5 in January, worse than forecast last week. This raised further concerns about a slowdown in the world's second-largest economy.