* Credit Agricole up after results
* Glencore gains after refinancing debt
* RWE slumps after dividend scrapped
* FTSEurofirst still down 10 pct since start of 2016 (Updates prices, adds details)
By Sudip Kar-Gupta and Danilo Masoni
LONDON/MILAN, Feb 17 (Reuters) - European stocks rose sharply on Wednesday, helped by stronger crude oil prices on optimism over an output deal, and boosted by a rise in the shares of French bank Credit Agricole and miner Glencore.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index was up 2.4 percent by 1539 GMT, and the euro zone’s blue-chip index Eurostoxx 50 index added 2.6 percent.
The index remains down around 10 percent since the start of 2016 due to persistent concerns about a global economic slowdown and weak commodity prices. But the FTSEurofirst 300 has staged a recovery recently, rising 6 percent in the two sessions before Tuesday’s slight drop, partly on a recovery in banking shares.
“Overall sentiment is neutral to positive, with the momentum clearly pointing to the upside,” said City of London Markets Limited trader Markus Huber.
A bounce in crude oil prices on hopes that major producing countries would seal an deal on freezing production was also underpinning the market but concerns remained over possible strong swings in the commodity’s price.
“The on-going volatility in crude oil prices remain one major worry for stock market investors,” said Fawad Razaqzada, analyst at Forex.com.
Credit Agricole was among the strongest performers, rising 14.9 percent after it beat expectations with its results. The French bank also promised stable investor returns and a solid capital base in the future as it outlined plans to simplify its much-criticised ownership structure.
“Overall it’s been a good quarter for them. It looks like they have enough capital and the new ownership structure should be clearer and less convoluted than before,” said Clairinvest fund manager Ion-Marc Valahu, who added that he had recently bought into the euro zone banking index.
British miner Glencore climbed 13.4 percent after announcing the refinancing of its debt, while Schneider Electric surged 9 percent after reporting higher revenues and earnings.
Shares in Swedish heating technology company Nibe Industrier jumped 6 percent higher after its results beat market expectations.
However, shares in RWE fell 12 percent after scrapping its annual the dividend for the first time in decades, as Germany’s second biggest utility struggles to hold on to cash following major writedowns.
“Scrapping the dividend is a devastating signal, you couldn’t send a worse one,” a trader said.
According to Thomson Reuters StarMine data, 52 percent of the companies on the European STOXX 600 index have met or beaten market expectations with their fourth-quarter results so far, while 48 percent have missed those expectations.
Today’s European research round-up (Additional reporting by Andrea Lentz in Frankfurt and by Alistair Smout and Atul Prakash in London; Editing by Keith Weir)