The FTSE 100 started Monday's session broadly unchanged as confidence about China provided some support, helping the FTSE 100 hold on to gains made in recent weeks.
Impressive economic data helped drive a 2.1% rise on the Footsie last week, including better-than-expected readings of Chinese and American manufacturing, US jobless claims and German sentiment. Since the start of 2012, London's benchmark index has jumped an impressive 6.6%.
However, analyst Ishaq Siddiqi from ETX Capital said that markets would "pause for breath" today "with high profile earnings from both the US and Europe in full swing, together with an onslaught of tier-one economic data due during the course of this week".
He said: "An encouraging earnings season in the US so far bodes well for the European corporate results, with traders now less cautious about the health of the corporate sector compared to the fears that weighed on the market earlier in the month."
Helping sentiment today were comments made by Stephen Green, the head of research for Greater China at Standard Chartered, who said that Chinese industrial profits should rise by 30% in 2013 on average as a result of investment in infrastructure and real estate, improvements in export demand and looser monetary conditions.
Economist Lu Ting from Bank of America Merrill Lynch meanwhile expects profits to grow by 25% in the first half of this year.
New World Resources sees prices plunge
New World Resources slumped early on after saying that the price it could sell its thermal coal in 2013 had tumbled as the market was hit by oversupply. The company managed to negotiate an average price of €60 per tonne for 2013 thermal coal deliveries, a 19% fall on 2012 prices.
Broadcaster ITV was in the red after acquiring the freehold of London Television Centre for £56m. According to the company, the purchase gives ITV flexibility in its property strategy as it continues to rebalance the business.
Budget airline easyJet was lower after revealing that its Chairman, Sir Mike Rake, would step down this summer. The move comes after three years of high-profile public arguments between management and easyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou about how the company is run.
Outsourcing group Mitie gained after saying that it is performing in line with expectations as strong organic growth has been driven by new and expanded contracts.
Building materials supplier Travis Perkins edged higher after saying its new Finance Director, Tony Buffin, will start at the firm in April.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Shire Plc (SHP) 2,132.00p +1.04%
Eurasian Natural Resources Corp. (ENRC) 334.00p +0.88%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 1,266.00p +0.72%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 1,675.50p +0.66%
HSBC Holdings (HSBA) 714.50p +0.59%
Aviva (AV.) 372.50p +0.54%
Prudential (PRU) 952.00p +0.47%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 171.05p +0.47%
Tesco (TSCO) 357.30p +0.46%
Standard Life (SL.) 347.30p +0.46%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Capita (CPI) 774.50p -2.46%
BG Group (BG.) 1,147.00p -1.59%
CRH (CRH) 1,330.00p -1.41%
Bunzl (BNZL) 1,103.00p -1.16%
Evraz (EVR) 296.60p -1.13%
TUI Travel (TT.) 289.90p -1.09%
Rexam (REX) 466.40p -1.05%
Aggreko (AGK) 1,738.00p -0.91%
Tullow Oil (TLW) 1,173.00p -0.85%
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 381.20p -0.78%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Redrow (RDW) 202.60p +5.58%
Mitie Group (MTO) 288.00p +2.27%
Menzies(John) (MNZS) 700.50p +2.26%
Diploma (DPLM) 558.00p +2.20%
Bumi (BUMI) 340.80p +1.97%
Millennium & Copthorne Hotels (MLC) 550.00p +1.85%
Betfair Group (BET) 674.50p +1.73%
Brown (N.) Group (BWNG) 374.30p +1.71%
Bodycote (BOY) 472.30p +1.68%
Kier Group (KIE) 1,427.00p +1.64%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
New World Resources A Shares (NWR) 292.30p -6.58%
Home Retail Group (HOME) 125.50p -6.06%
Centamin (DI) (CEY) 55.90p -4.20%
Debenhams (DEB) 101.70p -3.42%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 266.80p -2.20%
easyJet (EZJ) 930.00p -1.59%
Amlin (AML) 373.40p -1.45%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 222.90p -1.42%
Elementis (ELM) 212.20p -1.26%
Afren (AFR) 141.50p -1.12%