On a light day for economic data and trading volumes, the FTSE 100 was registering moderate gains by Monday lunchtime.
Market strategist Ishaq Siddiqi from ETX Capital said that there was "a lack of direction from Asia overnight" with Japan's Nikkei and Hong Kong's Hang-Seng indices both closed for the celebration of the Lunar New Year holidays.
However, industrial production figures from France were providing some support to stocks today. While industrial output declined by 0.1% in December, it was better than 0.2% decrease expected by analysts, providing a boost to markets in morning trade.
As market analyst Craig Erlam from Alpari explains: "This in no way suggests the outlook is any better for France this year, it's more a reflection of lower trading volumes and a lack of market drivers with the economic calendar very light this week and corporate earnings season drawing to a close."
Eurozone finance ministers are expected to meet today to discuss the current crisis at the monthly meeting of the Eurogroup. This will be followed by the Ecofin gathering tomorrow that includes the rest of the European Union (EU) finance ministers.
One of the main topics on the agenda will be the Cyprus bailout, estimated to be around €17.5bn, but no final decision will be made as policymakers have already indicated that they prefer to wait until after the February 17th presidential elections.
FTSE 100: Barclays rises ahead of results
Banking group Barclays was making gains ahead of its full-year results and conclusion of its strategic review out tomorrow. Media reports suggest that the lender plans to reduce costs by at least £2.0bn and cut 2,000 jobs in investment banking.
Miners were performing well this morning, with EVRAZ, ENRC and Polymetal among the highest risers on the blue-chip index. However, Rio Tinto was in the red despite the Australian Competition Tribunal ruling that its Hamersley and Robe rail network should not be opened up to other users.
Supermarket giant Tesco was on shopping lists after Exane BNP Paribas upgraded the stock to 'neutral' and lifted its target price from 320p to 375p. Meanwhile, oilfield services group Petrofac also rose after Oriel Securities raised its rating to 'hold'.
Power systems company Rolls-Royce was in demand after saying that it has been awarded a contract worth nearly £100m from the US Air Force.
Real estate firm British Land edged higher after expanding its London portfolio with the purchase of a number of properties from Dutch group Weraldhave for £183.8m, including the Ealing Broadway Shopping Centre.
FTSE 250: Fidessa up despite flat results
Trading systems developer Fidessa gained despite reporting that profits and revenues had barely changed during 2012 due to tough market conditions.
Third-quarter power generation at Essar Energy almost doubled, causing shares
to rise this morning. Power generation rose 93% to 2,862m units compared to 1,481m units in the same quarter a year earlier.