Stocks started Thursday's session with moderate gains on the back of hopes that US politicians are nearing an agreement on the 'fiscal cliff', as markets looked ahead to policy announcements in both the UK and Europe.
"European headline shares
opened vigilantly today as a raft of economic data due over the next couple of days caused investors to second-guess whether they should be holding risk-on assets in the context of global economic uncertainty," said financial trader Shavaz Dhalla from Spreadex.
"Despite such uncertainty, optimism has been dealt a positive hand following reports yesterday that US policy officials are moving closer to a deal, which could even be completed next week, in order to avoid the fiscal cliff," he said.
Investors will also be watching out for rate decisions from the Bank of England and European Central Bank after midday, both of whom are expected to keep policy on hold.
Markets largely shrugged off yesterday's Autumn Budget from Chancellor George Osborne in which the government announced new figures that forecast a 0.1% contraction in UK GDP this year, before the economy grows by 1.2% next year.
FTSE 100: Rolls-Royce drops on bribery investigation
Power systems giant Rolls-Royce tanked after saying that it is to report to the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) after matters of bribery and corruption involving so-called 'intermediaries' were discovered in Indonesia and China.
UK lender Barclays gained after saying that it is to combine the majority of its African operations with Absa Group, saying it accelerates the 'One Bank in Africa' strategy and its goal to become the 'Go-To- bank on the continent.
Emerging markets bank Standard Chartered was in demand after saying it is in on track to deliver another strong set of full-year results this year as it reiterated that it is near to settling claims over Iran-linked transactions with US authorities.
Sector peer HSBC fell into the red on reports that it may pay a fine of £1.1bn in the US to settle charges from law enforcement authorities that it permitted money-laundering.
FTSE 250: Stagecoach rises on West Coast news
Stagecoach was higher after the Department for Transport said that its joint venture Virgin Rail Group would continue to run the West Coast Mainline franchise until November 2014.
Packaging firm DS Smith rose after expressing confidence for the full year, with interims profits boosted by its acquisition of SCA Packaging on June 30th, although net debt levels have risen.
Premier Oil fell after its 70%-owned Cyclone well in the North Sea had failed to strike oil. AIM-listed Antrim Energy owns the remaining 30% of the project.
Electronics components supplier Premier Farnell was out of favour after saying profit in the third quarter fell amid challenging market conditions.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Antofagasta (ANTO) 1,322.00p +2.01%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 1,517.00p +1.91%
Intertek Group (ITRK) 3,139.00p +1.65%
Barclays (BARC) 249.90p +1.42%
Rexam (REX) 446.70p +1.38%
CRH (CRH) 1,158.00p +1.31%
Melrose Industries (MRO) 224.40p +1.22%
Vedanta Resources (VED) 1,107.00p +1.19%
ITV (ITV) 104.40p +1.16%
Evraz (EVR) 238.90p +1.14%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Sage Group (SGE) 290.40p -3.33%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 889.00p -2.68%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 6,375.00p -1.62%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 735.50p -1.08%
Severn Trent (SVT) 1,563.00p -0.57%
British Land Co (BLND) 550.00p -0.54%
Shire Plc (SHP) 1,877.00p -0.53%
ARM Holdings (ARM) 748.50p -0.47%
Land Securities Group (LAND) 804.00p -0.43%
Pennon Group (PNN) 617.00p -0.32%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Dixons Retail (DXNS) 27.76p +5.03%
Talvivaara Mining Company (TALV) 98.20p +3.26%
Ted Baker (TED) 1,105.00p +2.98%
Lonmin (LMI) 260.10p +2.60%
Victrex (VCT) 1,571.00p +2.55%
Imagination Technologies Group (IMG) 410.30p +2.32%
Beazley (BEZ) 182.00p +2.25%
Elementis (ELM) 228.90p +2.05%
Smith (DS) (SMDS) 217.60p +1.92%
Rank Group (RNK) 139.90p +1.89%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
JD Sports Fashion (JD.) 715.50p -4.60%
PayPoint (PAY) 855.50p -2.06%
Hiscox Ltd. (HSX) 474.70p -1.64%
Synthomer (SYNT) 180.00p -1.64%
COLT Group SA (COLT) 100.80p -1.47%
Lancashire Holdings (LRE) 801.00p -1.42%
Dignity (DTY) 1,014.00p -1.36%
Centamin (DI) (CEY) 51.20p -1.06%
Premier Oil (PMO) 329.10p -0.99%
Diploma (DPLM) 505.00p -0.98%