World number two truck maker Volvo AB posted a bigger-than-expected rise in first-quarter earnings on Wednesday and raised its forecast for truck markets in both Europe and North America.

Sweden's Volvo reported operating earnings of 6.5 billion Swedish crowns ($1.1 billion) compared with a year-ago 2.8 billion, beating a mean forecast of 5.5 billion seen in a Reuters poll of analysts.

The highly cyclical heavy-duty truck market has picked up strongly in recent quarters, with growth spreading out of emerging markets in Asia and Latin America to more mature markets on both sides of the North Atlantic.

Volvo, the second-biggest truck maker after Germany's Daimler AG , said order bookings of its trucks rose 40 percent and it raised its 2011 market outlook to between 230,000 and 240,000 units from 220,000 for both Europe and North America.

Coming out of the worst market decline in decades, truck makers face the task of catering to rapidly improving demand that has strained component suppliers, while rising prices for many raw materials have added to cost pressures.

Volvo and its domestic rival Scania AB , due to report later on Wednesday, also have to contend with a strong Swedish crown, leaving investors closely eyeing profitability at the groups.

Gothenburg-based Volvo, which makes heavy-duty trucks under the Renault, Mack, UD Trucks and Eicher brands, said its operating margin rose to 9.1 percent from a year-ago 4.8 percent, well above the 7.7 percent seen by analysts. (Reporting by Niklas Pollard and Johannes Hellstrom; Editing by David Holmes) ($1=6.102 Swedish Crown)