The top shares nosed higher on Wednesday, helped by a boost for banks from bullish analysts and investor optimism that a Greek debt deal was close.

Greek party leaders will try on Wednesday to strike a reform deal in return for a new 130 billion euro (108 billion pound) rescue from the IMF and EU after a string of delays.

The UK benchmark <.FTSE> was 5.21 points, or 0.1 percent, higher at 5,895.47 by 1352 GMT, having consolidated recent gains over the previous two trading sessions.

I think we're going to be stuck in this rut for as long as it takes for them to get an agreement ... It really seems to be the stumbling point at the moment, Chris Beauchamp, market analyst at IG Index, said.

But if we do get a deal, then I think we could see the market push a bit higher.

Technical analysis, however, showed the index may struggle to progress further to the upside following its recent strength.

Near-term risk is a potential pull-back in range, said Lynnden Branigan, technical strategist at Barclays Capital.

Ultimately though, if we can hold above the former range highs in the 5,747 area (the intra-day peak on October 27), there is scope for pushing higher.

Banks <.FTNMX8350> rose as Citigroup repeated its overweight stance on UK lenders. Citi, while acknowledging the unprecedented deleveraging facing the sector, said technical analysis suggested it could continue its recent rally.

Share observation of previous financial crises suggests that bank share prices usually trough only 1-2 years after the peak in loans and 3-5 years before the de-leveraging process completes. UK bank lending peaked in December 2009, Andrew Coombs, analyst at Citi said.

Citi said its near-term preferred bank is Barclays , up 0.5 percent, while it reiterated its buy ratings on Lloyds Banking Group , HSBC and Standard Chartered .

Miners <.FTNMX1770> rose in tandem with base metals prices.

The volatility of the mining stocks is usually tied to the long-term demand story but I think we've got the prospect of a relief rally as they were marked down on question marks over the Glencore/Xstrata deal, a London-based trader said.

Rio Tinto rose 1.7 percent as investors cheered the global miner's announcement of a $3.4 billion (2.1 billion pound) expansion of iron ore mining in Australia.

BHP Billiton underperformed the sector, off 0.6 percent, as the world's biggest miner reported a rare fall in earnings.

The company, however, made more cash profit in six months than the $90 billion marriage of commodities trader Glencore and miner Xstrata would have made in all of 2011 -- and from far fewer revenues, largely due to BHP's hugely profitable iron ore business.

Reckitt Benckiser grabbed the top spot on the FTSE 100 leader board, ahead 2.8 percent as the consumer goods group's full-year results beat market expectations.

It is perhaps too soon to say Reckitts is back but the Q4 results did look somewhat like the Reckitts of old ... with a nice beat vs. consensus (and our) expectations across the board, Bernstein Research said in a note.

International Power , meanwhile, was the biggest laggard, down 3.1 percent, after the company said achieving its 2013 earnings target could prove challenging following a drop in hydro generation prices in Brazil.

(Additional reporting by David Brett; Editing by David Cowell)