Europe shares close mostly up; Swiss stocks tumble

European equities closed mostly higher on Friday, but Swiss stocks weighed on wider benchmarks.

The pan-European Euro Stoxx 600 Index closed higher on Friday. The Swiss National Bank (SNB)'s abandonment of its currency cap on the euro boosted risk sentiment in Europe ex-Switzerland, as it has added to hopes that the European Central Bank could announce more stimulus measures next week.

"After the SNB caused a spasm across all markets and assets yesterday, traders have come to the conclusion that the SNB capitulated in the face of overwhelming ECB action next week," Marius Paun and Jonathan Sudaria, two dealers at Capital Spreads, said in a note.


However, the Swiss benchmark stock index closed over 5 percent lower on Friday, with a stronger currency making a country's exports more expensive. All stocks on the index closed lower, with Julius Baer the worst hit, falling by more than 15 percent. Also lower were watchmaker Swatch, chocolate maker Nestle, banks UBS and Credit Suisse and insurers Swiss Re and Zurich Insurance.

Swiss bonds also rose on Friday, pushing the 10-year government bond yield into negative territory for the first time, according to Reuters.

Greek stocks also closed lower, as concerns about the upcoming national election continued to weigh.

BP shares up

In other stocks news, BP shares closed over 5 percent higher after a ruling by U.S. District Court said that the supermajor's Gulf oil spill was smaller than first feared. The stock was also boosted by gains in crude oil prices.

Meanwhile, France's Carrefour closed more than 4 percent higher after it published solid fourth-quarter sales on Friday.

On the data front, final euro area inflation data on Friday confirmed a month-on-month fall of 0.1 percent in December.

Across the Atlantic, U.S. brushed off initial losses at the open and turned higher on Friday. Energy stocks led gains as oil prices rose.

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