* FTSEurofirst 300 hovers just below seven-year high
* $5.8 bln inflows to European equities -BoAML
* Politicians gather for new attempt on Greek deal
* Europe enjoying best earnings season in 3 1/2 years
By Sudip Kar-Gupta and Blaise Robinson
LONDON/PARIS, Feb 20 (Reuters) - European stock markets hovered near multi-year highs on Friday, as euro zone finance ministers prepared another attempt at reaching a deal on Greece.
Shares in Danish drugmaker Novo Nordisk rose around 5 percent after positive trial results for one of its products. Mining company Eramet jumped 9.3 percent after better-than-expected results.
Novo Nordisk was among the best performers on the blue-chip European FTSEurofirst 300 index, which was flat at 1,520.23 points -- near a seven-year high of 1,524.28 points reached earlier in the session.
The Greek stalemate overshadowed data pointing to growth in Germany and France. Greece’s new prime minister said on Friday he was certain euro zone finance ministers would accept Athens’ request for an extended loan as EU paymaster Germany softened its hostile tone.
German magazine Spiegel reported that the European Central Bank was making preparations for the event that Greece did leave the euro zone, but most traders still felt that would not happen.
Athens’ benchmark ATG equity index dipped 1 percent but the index remains up by around 20 percent from low points in late January, when the Syriza party won power in Greek elections. The Greek bank index was up 1.4 percent.
Germany’s DAX slipped 0.1 percent but also remained close to a record high reached earlier in the day.
“I think there is going to be a resolution on Greece. We’re not favouring the scenario of Greece exiting the euro zone,” said Thames Capital Markets’ chief market strategist Nav Banwait.
Among shares losing ground, Gemalto, which makes smart chips for mobile phones, bank cards and biometric passports, dropped 6.8 percent after it said it would investigate a report that U.S. and British spies had hacked its systems to steal its encryption keys.
Telecom Italia shares fell after the company said it would propose paying dividends only to certain shareholders and posted lower profits.
However, half way into the earnings season, results have been strong in Europe. Fifty-three percent of companies’ results have beaten profit forecasts, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Fourth-quarter earnings are expected to grow 19.5 percent, which would be the best quarter in 3 1/2 years, and Bank of America Merrill Lynch said European equities saw $5.8 billion of inflows this week.
The FTSEurofirst 300 has risen 11 percent so far this year, outpacing a 1.9 percent gain in Wall Street’s S&P 500, helped by the European Central Bank’s plans to buy government bonds to boost the economy.
“The market continues its slow progression upward and there aren’t any signals of weakness at this point. Every small pull-back is a buying opportunity,” said Jean-Louis Cussac, head of Perceval Finance.
Europe bourses in 2015: link.reuters.com/pap87v
Asset performance in 2015: link.reuters.com/gap87v
Today’s European research round-up (Editing by Larry King)