(ADVISORY - Reuters plans to replace intra-day European and UK stock market reports with a Live Markets blog on Eikon - see cpurl://apps.cp./cms/?pageId=livemarkets for site in development. See the bottom of the report for more details) Adds closing prices)
* Pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 gains 0.2 pct
* UPM, BP up on better-than-expected results
* Banks outperform as StanChart rallies on results
* Air Liquide slumps after unexpected sales decline
By Danilo Masoni and Atul Prakash
MILAN/LONDON, April 26 (Reuters) - European shares ended slightly higher on Tuesday, supported by firmer oil prices and encouraging company results, with pulp and paper maker UPM and oil major BP rallying on better-than-expected figures.
UPM surged 9 percent, the second biggest gain in the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300, after reporting a 34-percent rise in adjusted operating profit in the first quarter.
"In Europe, local bourses are in the black, mostly on the back of a rebound in crude oil prices contributing to the markets risk-on sentiment and on positive corporate earnings surprises from several companies," Oanda currency strategist Dean Popplewell said in a note.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index, which closed 0.6 percent lower on Monday after hitting a three-month high in the previous week, ended 0.2 percent higher.
The European oil and gas index rose 1.1 percent after oil advanced on a weaker dollar and a flood of new cash into the market, although some analysts warned of increased output from Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Shares in BP rose 4.3 percent. The company's profit dropped 80 percent in the first quarter but beat analysts' expectations. BP also held its dividend and said it could cut capital spending further.
"It appears the result was positively impacted by better availability, lower costs and importantly a better trading result," RBC analysts said in a note.
Banks rose 2.5 percent, making them the top sectoral gainer. Standard Chartered soared 9.8 percent after it posted stronger-than-expected first quarter results and said restructuring costs were in line with its plans.
The earnings season is gaining momentum in Europe. According to Thomson Reuters StarMine data, 16 percent of companies in the STOXX Europe 600 have reported results so far, of which half have met or beaten analysts' forecasts.
On the downside, Air Liquide shares fell 4.8 percent after the industrial gases supplier posted an unexpected drop in first-quarter sales.
Today's European research round-up
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Mike Dolan, Markets Editor EMEA. (Editing by Gareth Jones)