Robust bank results help European stocks keep rally alive
* FTSEurofirst 300 up 0.7 pct, Euro STOXX 50 up 0.6 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 fed 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. That sent its shares up 4.7 percent to a near-three year high.
Shares in ING surged 3.6 percent after it posted forecast-beating results and said it would review the early repayment of its final tranche of state aid. That could pave the way for the Dutch financial services group to resume dividend payments halted in 2008.
The STOXX euro zone bank index, up 0.9 percent on the day, has surged about 8 percent so far this year, strongly outperforming the overall market. Continuación...