European stocks were up 1.2 percent by midday on Monday, hitting a near three-week high, as forecast-beating results from Philips (PHG.AS) fuelled hopes over results ahead of this week's earnings from bellwethers.

At 1110 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 .FTEU3 index of top European shares was up 1.2 percent at 1,010.24 points, after rising to as high as 1,010.55 points, the index's highest level since Sept. 23.

Shares of Philips surged 6.1 percent after posting better-than-expected third-quarter results, as the world's biggest lighting maker and Europe's biggest consumer electronics producer benefited from cost-cutting measures.

Shares of tech companies and conglomerates gained ground, with both Siemens (SIEGn.DE) and Nokia (NOK1V.HE) up 2.7 percent, while Alcatel-Lucent (ALUA.PA) soared 5.2 percent, also helped by a rating upgrade from Societe Generale, which upgraded its recommendation on the stock to hold from sell.

We're testing the resistance on the upside at the moment, but to resume the upside trend, we need good quarterly results, said David Thebault, head of quantitative sales trading, at Global Equities, in Paris.

The figures from Philips bode well for the earnings season, because the company's businesses range from healthcare to technology, touching a lot of sectors. It's a good indication of what to expect. Overall, I think this earnings season will be strong.

Investors eagerly awaited quarterly results from U.S. bellwethers Intel Corp (INTC.O), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N), Citigroup (C.N), Bank of America (BAC.N), Goldman Sachs (GS.N), JPMorgan (JPM.N), Google (GOOG.O), IBM (IBM.N) and General Electric (GE.N), expected to report this week.

Banks and insurance stocks rose on Monday, with HSBC (HSBA.L) up 0.8 percent, UBS (UBSN.VX) up 1.3 percent and Allianz (ALVG.DE) up 2 percent.


The banking sector .SX7P, which had a dismal 2008, has jumped 171 percent since the market reached a floor in early March, outpacing the FTSEurofirst 300, which is up 56 percent over the same period.

Barclays (BARC.L) bucked the trend on Monday, down 1.2 percent. The Financial Times reported the UK lender is planning to spin off a 4-billion-pound ($6.35 billion) portfolio of complex credit assets in a bid to further clean up its balance sheet.

Shares of oil companies gained ground as crude oil futures CLc1 hit the $73 mark, up nearly 2 percent, on optimism over the pace of global economic recovery and indications of stronger oil demand.

Total (TOTF.PA) added 1.5 percent, Repsol (REP.MC) rose 1 percent and BP (BP.L) gained 1.4 percent.

Around Europe, UK's FTSE 100 index .FTSE was up 1.1 percent, Germany's DAX index .GDAXI up 1.5 percent, and France's CAC 40 .FCHIup 1.3 percent.

So far this year, the FTSEurofirst 300 is up 21 percent, the FTSE 100 up 18 percent, the DAX up 21 percent and the CAC up 20 percent.