European shares steady as firmer banks offset weaker telecoms
* 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. Continuación...