* Bankia rises after reporting higher profits
* Italian bank stocks also gain on prospect of M&A
* Nokia, Alcatel fall after Samsung settlement
By Sudip Kar-Gupta
LONDON, Feb 1 (Reuters) - European stock markets were steady on Monday, as a rise in the shares of major banks such as Bankia offset a fall in the telecoms sector after Nokia settled a dispute with Samsung.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index, whose 6 percent fall in January was its worst monthly drop at the start of a year since 2008, rose 0.1 percent, although Germany's DAX and the euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 both fell 0.3 percent.
Bankia climbed 7.1 percent after the state-controlled Spanish bank reported higher profits.
Shares in Banco Popolare and other Italian banks also rose after the lender said it expected to agree a merger with Banca Popolare di Milano within a month, signalling the start of a long-awaited consolidation of Italy's fragmented banking sector.
Shares in Nokia and Alcatel -- which Nokia is in the process of acquiring -- slumped around 10 percent, however, after traders expressed disappointment with the terms of Nokia's settlement of a patent dispute with Samsung.
Traders said weak data from China, the world's second-biggest economy, would also keep stock markets under pressure. PMI surveys on Monday also showed a slowdown in factory growth across the euro zone.
"Disappointment over the Chinese data will dampen sentiment. For the medium term, I would definitely look to sell out on any market rallies," said Hantec Markets' analyst Richard Perry.
The FTSEurofirst is down around 6 percent since the start of 2016 while the DAX is around 20 percent below a record high reached last April.
Today's European research round-up (Editing by Catherine Evans)