The FTSE 100 Index was on the front foot today as events in the United States gave a fillip to investors after a disappointing recent run.
The top flight added 60 points at one stage after the Dow Jones Industrial Average rallied in the wake of the latest rates decision by the US Federal Reserve.
The annual State of the Union address was also met with relief after President Obama pledged to create more jobs and spur growth in the world’s largest economy.
The rally in London was fragile as the Footsie later stood 10.7 points higher at 5228.2.
US policymakers left interest rates unchanged – as expected – and maintained their pledge to keep borrowing costs low for an extended period.
This provided a boost to investors as worries about the prospect of tighter monetary policy had put markets under pressure earlier in the week.
As well as gains for a number of miners, banks made the most of the improved sentiment as Barclays lifted 9.1p to 276p, Royal Bank of Scotland cheered 0.7p to 33.7p and Lloyds Banking Group rose 0.7p to 51.6p.
BSkyB was among other risers after it reported a 4% rise in half-year profits to £401m (€464.65m) and said nearly half a million customers had signed up for high-definition TV in the past three months.
With chief executive Jeremy Darroch reporting “another good quarter”, shares rose 3.5p to 557.5p, although this was weaker than the 2.5% gain seen earlier in the session.
The biggest fall in the top flight was posted by AstraZeneca after analysts expressed disappointment at the content of the drug company’s annual results, particularly its guidance for 2010 earnings.
The company is stepping up its efficiency drive with another 8,000 job cuts over the next four years, but this was not enough to prevent shares from falling 3% or 100.5p to 2944.5p.
Outside the top flight, shares in sugar producer Tate & Lyle fell 4% after it said full-year operating profits were likely to be marginally below last year. The stock, which recently dropped out of the FTSE 100, fell 16.8p to 390p.
Transport firms dominated the second-tier risers board after Arriva announced it was in merger talks with European bus and coach operator Keolis.
Arriva shares rose 15.6p to 483.5p, while hopes for further consolidation lifted National Express 6.4p to 211.9p and Go-Ahead by 31p to 1390p.