Europe shares close to finish higher ahead of QE

European equities seesawed before finishing higher on Friday, breaking multi-year records ahead of the launch of the European Central Bank's quantitative easing program.

Upbeat earnings


The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 closed 0.27 percent higher after some positive earnings news, hitting levels not seen since 2007. European stock markets have logged their best to start to the year since regional benchmarks began in 1986, according to Reuters.

Shares of Bank of Ireland surged as much as 8 percent as it reported a swing to full-year profit on Friday morning. Airbus shares also gained, over 7 percent, after paying out a record dividend and announcing a jump in profits. Property website Rightmove saw its shares rocketed 13 percent following the announcement of a profit rise at the firm. It also highlighted that more estate agents were using the service.

Airlines company IAG bounced 4 percent higher as it upgraded its 2015 profit forecasts. Meanwhile, shares of Old Mutual climbed as much as 1.2 percent after reporting a 16 percent profit rise on Friday.

Lloyds Banking Group shares also rose, higher by 1.7 percent, before closing up 0.6 percent following an earnings report Friday, saying it will pay a dividend of 0.75p per share to investors.

Read MoreLloyds to pay first post-crisis dividend


The ECB is set to launch its 60 billion euro a month money-printing program in March, with details of the scheme to be discussed at it planned meeting next week.

U.S. markets traded mildly lower on Friday, February's last trading day, amid domestic economic reports and slight oil gains.

A second reading of U.S. fourth-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) showed growth expanded at a 2.2 percent annualized pace, revised down from the 2.6 percent pace estimated last month.

Read More US Q4 growth rate revised down to 2.2%

Greece in focus

Greece is also in the spotlight again with German lawmakers approving a four-month extension of Greece's bailout on Friday although relations appear strained between the two countries after a turbulent negotiation process.

The bailout extension comes at a time of rising tension in Athens. On Thursday, dozens of black-clad protesters clashed with riot police in the capital, Reuters reported. The protesters smashed shop windows, threw petrol bombs and burned cars after an anti-government march, the first since the left-wing Syriza party took power a month ago, the news agency said.

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