London's benchmark index was registering decent gains by Thursday lunchtime as earlier concerns about disappointing earnings from Apple were outweighed by better-than-expected economy data from Europe and China.
Investors began today's session in a cautious fashion with the FTSE 100 struggling to find direction after the world's largest tech company, Apple, missed both revenue and profit forecasts in its fiscal first quarter.
"This morning's headlines are largely dedicated to Apple's after-market earnings miss that saw the stock trade lower by as much as 10% in out-of-hours trade," said Matt Basi, a senior sales trader at CMC Markets.
"Apple bulls will be licking their wounds this morning before making a difficult decision as to whether the fall is an over-reaction, or represents the next stage of a down trend that has been in place since September of last year."
However, the Footsie managed to push firmly into the blue by midday after some decent economic data. The Chinese HSBC flash manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) rose to a two-year high of 51.9 in January, from 51.5 the month before. Analysts were expecting a figure of 51.7.
Meanwhile, the Eurozone composite PMI (which tracks both services and manufacturing) came in at 48.2, from 47.2 in December. While this still represents a contraction, the consensus forecast was for a rise to just 47.5.
It is America's turn to report manufacturing figures later on, with the preliminary Markit PMI for January expected to fall from 54 to 53. Markets will also be looking out for jobless claims figures for last week, which are forecast to rise from 335,000 to 355,000.
FTSE 100: Miners higher after Chinese data
Anglo American, BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto were edging higher this morning after the improved Chinese data lifted the outlook for demand. Gold producer Randgold was given an extra boost after Bank of America Meriill Lynch upgraded the stock to 'buy'.
Chip designers ARM Holdings was a heavy faller this morning after Apple disappointed the market last night.
Utilities stocks were providing a lift this morning after a series of broker upgrades. HSBC upped its rating for Centrica to 'overweight', while Bank of America Merrill Lynch raised its recommendation for both Severn Trent and United Utilites to 'neutral'.
Banking group Barclays was in the red on reports that it is to cut around 70 jobs in Asian investment banking as it undergoes a major shake-up. Sector peer Lloyds, which said yesterday that it would slash 940 jobs in group operations, insurance, retail, wealth and international and commercial divisions, was making moderate gains.
FTSE 250: easyJet and Chemring provide a lift
Budget airline easyJet was flying high after total revenue jumped 9.2% to £833m in the first quarter. CEO Carolyn McCall said: "easyJet has made a strong start to the year due to a combination of management action, competitor capacity reductions and the benign operating environment."
Defence tech group Chemring was on the rise after its full-year results. While the company recorded a sharp drop in profits, they were in line with expectations which "counts as a positive given the recent history", according to analysts at Investec.
High Street bakery Greggs gained after appointing Roger Whiteside, the current Punch Taverns CEO, as its new frontman. The pubs group saw shares
Drinks group A.G. Barr rose after saying that sales in the final quarter of the year are expected to rise 5%, with full-year sales up 7%.
High Street betting shop Ladbrokes impressed with its acquisition of Global Betting Exchange Alderney (GBEA) for €30m, which will see it get its hands on the Betdaq exchange, accelerating the firm's strategy to grow digital revenues through technology investment.
Transport group FirstGroup was higher after third-quarter trading was in line with expectations, with like-for-like passenger revenue up 2.1% in the UK bus division.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Croda International (CRDA) 2,432.00p +3.14%
CRH (CRH) 1,311.00p +2.90%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 167.80p +2.66%
Polymetal International (POLY) 1,087.00p +2.64%
Severn Trent (SVT) 1,635.00p +1.93%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 731.00p +1.88%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 211.60p +1.58%
WPP (WPP) 969.50p +1.31%
Wolseley (WOS) 2,928.00p +1.10%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,536.00p +1.00%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Aggreko (AGK) 1,780.00p -2.14%
British Sky Broadcasting Group (BSY) 788.50p -1.44%
Eurasian Natural Resources Corp. (ENRC) 336.60p -1.32%
Evraz (EVR) 305.00p -1.26%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,353.00p -1.17%
BAE Systems (BA.) 338.20p -1.05%
Wood Group (John) (WG.) 827.00p -1.02%
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 375.30p -1.00%
BT Group (BT.A) 248.40p -0.92%
Tullow Oil (TLW) 1,184.00p -0.92%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Bwin.party Digital Entertainment (BPTY) 108.80p +7.40%
Chemring Group (CHG) 296.30p +4.88%
FirstGroup (FGP) 200.80p +4.58%
easyJet (EZJ) 891.50p +4.27%
Paragon Group Of Companies (PAG) 283.20p +3.40%
Heritage Oil (HOIL) 201.30p +3.39%
Ladbrokes (LAD) 205.90p +3.26%
Drax Group (DRX) 590.50p +3.14%
Phoenix Group Holdings (DI) (PHNX) 585.00p +2.99%
Barr (A.G.) (BAG) 535.00p +2.88%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
ICAP (IAP) 311.30p -4.83%
Laird (LRD) 223.60p -3.45%
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 430.80p -2.80%
Imagination Technologies Group (IMG) 453.40p -2.31%
Enterprise Inns (ETI) 93.85p -2.24%
Afren (AFR) 149.50p -1.64%
Tullett Prebon (TLPR) 248.90p -1.58%
Menzies(John) (MNZS) 671.00p -1.54%
Daejan Holdings (DJAN) 2,956.00p -1.47%
Polar Capital Technology Trust (PCT) 376.00p -1.31%