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Europe shares close higher; Next, Telecom Italia surge

European equities closed higher on Friday as retail stocks helped bourses post gains, with Next seeing a rise of 10 percent.

The provisionally closed higher by 0.5 percent, at 1,312.04 points.

This followed losses for Asian shares despite upbeat global economic data as profit-taking set in amid low trading volumes.

However, U.S. stocks climbed on Friday, a day after Wall Street got off to its first negative open to a year since 2008, as investors waited to hear Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's thoughts on how the economy is faring.

Among the major U.S. automakers reporting Friday, Ford Motor and Chrysler Group both reported December U.S. sales below Wall Street's estimates.

Fed officials speak

Patrick Latchford at Monex Capital Markets said the overall mood of global markets did not appear to be positive going into the New Year.

"(It) does seem to be one of acceptance that 2014 is unlikely to be a vintage year for equities against this backdrop of rising borrowing costs and as a result there is no shortage of sellers at these levels," he said in a note on Friday.

Attention now turns to a raft of speeches in the U.S. Fed Chief Ben Bernanke, alongside Plosser, Lacker, Stein, Dudley and Rosengren, are due to speak and markets will be looking for hints of further reductions in monthly bond purchases.

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