Banks and energy stocks pushed the FTSE share index higher on Thursday, with gas company BG helped by earnings figures as the market awaited rate decisions from the Bank of England and European Central Bank.
At 11:38 a.m. BT, the FTSE 100 <.FTSE> index was up 16.62 points, or 0.3 percent, at 5,892.65, having slipped back from a session peak of 5,905.20 as the psychologically important 5,900 level continued to offer resistance.
At 12:00 p.m. BTG the BoE is expected to say it is leaving its key interest rate unchanged at the record low of 0.5 percent, and announce a further 50 billion pounds available for asset purchases, or quantitative easing (QE).
Any deviation from this (QE amount) could see the markets turn volatile, said Joshua Raymond, Chief Market Strategist at City Index.
The European Central Bank will announce its rate decision at 1245 GMT, with no change expected.
Banks <.FTMNX8350> were in demand in London, led by part-state-owned lenders Lloyds Banking Group
We expect the general message from the banks to be that balance sheets continue to improve but that returns in the core businesses are being affected by regulation and poor macros, Societe Generale said in a preview note, naming Lloyds as its preferred sector selection.
Banks were also helped by the view that Greece was edging nearer to getting its debt crisis under control.
Greek officials said leaders were continuing talks to resolve one remaining issue -- pension cuts -- to wrap up a deal on a bailout package crucial to avoiding a messy default.
The energy sector <.FTNMX0530> was the top performer, led by BG Group
Miners were the biggest weight on blue-chip sentiment, led by Rio Tinto
Rio posted a 6 percent fall in underlying second-half profit and took a $9.3 billion charge mainly against its aluminium business, though it appeased investors somewhat with a huge 34 percent dividend hike.
(Rolls-Royce) figures look solid, but not enough to make them break out, as they are at an all-time high, a trader said.
Results accounted for a number of other blue chip fallers on Thursday, including British Land
(Additional reporting by David Brett; Editing by Will Waterman)