Europe Markets

Europe ends higher as GDP beats; DAX hits all-time high

Europe ends higher as GDP beats; DAX hits all-time high

European equities closed higher on Friday with investor sentiment boosted by better-than-expected growth numbers out of the euro zone and the prospect of a cease-fire deal between Ukraine and Russia.

GDP beats

The pan-European Euro Stoxx 600 Index ended around 0.6 percent higher with all major bourses posting modest gains. Fresh figures on Friday showed fourth-quarter euro zone GDP (gross domestic product) rose 0.3 percent compared to the last quarter, which managed to beat expectations.

Germany's GDP number grew more than expected in the fourth quarter, expanding by 0.7 percent quarter-on-quarter, which bolstered hopes that the euro zone's largest economy is back on track.

The German DAX hit a new all-time high on Friday morning with the index edging closer to the 11,000 point mark. It closed 0.5 percent higher at 10,970.

Read MoreGerman economy beats, shrugging off Russia woes

Greece in focus

Meanwhile, overnight gains in key commodity prices helped the basic resources sector to outperform the wider market. Stocks like Boliden and Rio Tinto were higher with analyst upgrades also helping them to log strong gains.

On the whole, global markets continued to advanced on Thursday's news of a cease-fire deal between Russia and Ukraine following months of violence between pro-Russian rebels and the Ukraine military.

Speaking on Russian TV, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the agreement would mean the removal of heavy weapons and a full cease-fire from midnight on February 15. With a previous cease-fire having failed, analysts question how long this deal will last, however. Fresh shelling has been heard in the rebel-held cities of Donetsk and Luhansk, according to a report by the BBC.

Greek officials will meet representatives from the troika of the European Union (EU), European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund soon - most likely in Brussels on Friday - to prepare for Monday's key Eurogroup meeting on debt talks, an EU official said on Thursday, Reuters reported.

At Thursday's meeting of EU leaders, there was no talk of issues related to Greece's economic problems, the chairman of the talks the current European Council President Donald Tusk said on Thursday. Greek stocks were higher by 4 percent Friday with the prospect of a deal.

In other stocks news, companies with an exposure to Russia continued to perform well. Raiffeisen Bank was higher by as much 6.8 percent before finishing over 3 percent higher. Societe Generale rallied to close 4.3 percent higher.

U.S. stocks traded near highs as investors continued to find encouragement from diminishing concerns about Ukraine, Greece and energy prices.

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