* FTSEurofirst 300 up 0.4 percent
* Electrolux and Renault, rise after results
* German Ifo points to strong business morale
* Greek shares up on debt deal optimism
By Alistair Smout
LONDON, April 24 (Reuters) - European shares climbed higher on Friday, boosted by encouraging corporate earnings and upbeat economic data, while the volatile Athens market also rose on prospects for a deal over Greece’s debt crisis.
The FTSEurofirst 300 was up 0.5 percent at 1,629.34 points going into the middle of the trading session. The index reversed most of the previous session’s drop and was just 1.5 percent below a 2015 peak hit last week, which marked its highest level since 2000.
Germany’s DAX advanced 0.8 percent, putting it within reach of record highs hit earlier this year, as data showed that German business morale had risen to its highest level in almost a year in April.
There was also optimism regarding Greece, after German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she had a “constructive” meeting with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
The Athens ATG index rose 4.3 percent, with Greek banks up 10.4 percent, although the ATG index remains down 7 percent so far in 2015.
Outside of Greece, however, most European stock markets have had a strong start to the year due to new economic stimulus measures from the European Central Bank (ECB) and signs of a pick-up in trade within the euro zone.
The DAX is up 21 percent while the FTSEurofirst 300 is up 19 percent.
“Europe has promised growth only to disappoint before. But, this time around, there isn’t yet real cause for concern. In fact in some countries - namely Italy and Spain - the economic momentum seems to be accelerating,” said Gary Paulin, co-founder of brokerage Aviate Global.
Swedish home appliances maker Electrolux rose 7.8 percent after reporting a smaller-than-expected fall in first-quarter earnings.
Renault rose 3.5 percent after it said first-quarter revenue rose 13.7 percent, as Europe’s auto-market upturn more than made up for collapsing Russian sales and a prolonged emerging-market slump.
HSBC, Europe’s biggest bank, also gained 3.5 percent after it said it has started a review of whether to move its headquarters out of Britain following regulatory and structural changes in the industry.
Of the 16 percent of STOXX 600 companies to have reported first quarter results so far, 61 percent have beaten or met expectations, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine data.
Thomson Reuters data shows first quarter earnings are expected to grow 2.8 percent from the first quarter of last year.
“Lending is picking up, as is consumer confidence, all of which points to an economic recovery in Europe,” said James Butterfill, global equity strategist at Coutts.
Europe bourses in 2015: link.reuters.com/pap87v
Asset performance in 2015: link.reuters.com/gap87v
Today’s European research round-up (Additional reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Andrew Heavens)