(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)
* Market helped by late crude oil price reversal
* Banks among top gainers before ECB meeting
* Accor, ABB up after results but ARM, ASML fall
* Volkswagen leads FTSEurofirst gainers
By Danilo Masoni and Atul Prakash
MILAN/LONDON, April 20 (Reuters) - European shares rose on Wednesday, helped by a late rally in crude oil prices and gains among banking stocks.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index, which had risen 1.5 percent to its highest since January 6 in the previous session, rose 0.5 percent but short of a new closing high.
After spending most of the session in the red or flat, the index turned higher as oil prices rebounded after a smaller-than-expected U.S. crude build report offset glut worries stirred by the end of a Kuwaiti oil workers strike.
"Overall, it was not exactly a solid report but good enough to keep the bears at bay, at least for the time being," said Fawad Razaqzada, analyst at Gain Capital in London.
Banks rose 2.2 percent, reversing initial weakness, with shares in Deutsche Bank, UniCredit and Santander all up by between 3.6 and 5.2 percent.
Traders cited no specific trigger behind the reversal but said there was some optimism over the battered sector ahead of the policy meeting on Thursday of the European Central Bank, which in March unveiled a stimulus package with measures that could help them weather a low growth, low rate environment.
Some solid updates, including those of Europe's largest hotel group Accor, also helped offset earlier falls.
Accor rose 5.3 percent after the company posted higher underlying sales late on Tuesday, as robust demand for hotel rooms in most markets overcame a weaker performance in France and in recession-hit Brazil.
Shares in several companies reacted sharply on Wednesday after announcing quarterly results. About 4 percent of the companies in the STOXX Europe 600 index have reported earnings, of which 60 percent have met or beaten analyst forecasts, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine.
Power grids maker ABB and telecoms operator Telia rose 3.8 percent and 1.2 percent following well-received earning updates. .
But chip maker ARM Holdings fell 1 percent after rising earlier on the back of better-than-expected first-quarter profit and ASML fell 4 percent after figures on new orders came in weaker than expected.
Volkswagen soared 6.6 percent, leading the gains on the FTSEurofirst, on optimism it can offer U.S. authorities an acceptable resolution of its emissions-test-rigging case.
Today's European research round-up
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Mike Dolan, Markets Editor EMEA. (Editing by Richard Balmforth)