Robust bank results help European stocks keep rally alive
* FTSEurofirst 300 and Euro STOXX 50 up 1 pct
* Europe enjoying strongest earnings season since Q3 2012
* Dividend hopes spark rally in banking shares
By Blaise Robinson
PARIS, Feb 12 (Reuters) - European stocks climbed on Wednesday, extending their brisk week-long rally, with banking stocks leading the gainers after robust results and on hopes of rising dividends in the sector.
French lender Societe Generale said it would return more cash to shareholders in 2014, after posting a swing to a fourth-quarter profit, sending its shares up 6 percent to a near-three year high.
Shares in ING surged 4.8 percent after saying it will review early repayment of its final tranche of state aid, which could pave the way for the Dutch financial services group to resume dividend payments halted in 2008.
The STOXX euro zone bank index, up 1.3 percent, has surged 8.6 percent so far this year, strongly outperforming the overall market.
At 1500 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was up 1 percent at 1,330.44 points. The index has risen 4.7 percent in the past six sessions, reversing more than two thirds of its late-January sell-off. Continuación...