The top share index rose in early deals with miners led up by metal prices and banks rallying as Citigroup kept its bullish stance on the sector, while the expectations of a Greek debt deal lingered in the background.

London's blue chip index <.FTSE> rose 12.37, or 0.2 percent to 5,902.36 by 9:32 a.m., pushing ahead after consolidating recent gains over the previous two trading days.

Trade remained thin -- the FTSE All-Share volumes just edged over 1.1bn Tuesday, the lightest trading day for three weeks, according to analysts -- suggesting caution among investors following recent gains.

The FTSE volatility index <.vFTSE> has also been creeping higher this week as traders wait for a debt deal for Greece.

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

Until we hear anything in the next day or two it's difficult to see this market making to much headway, said Richard Hunter, head of equities at Hargreaves Lansdown.

If we get a definitive (deal) then inevitably we will see a relief rally. In the absence of that investors are loath to commit any fresh capital because there's the possibility they might not like what they hear, he said.

Banks <.FTNMX8350> rose as Citigroup reiterated its overweight stance on UK lenders, acknowledging the unprecedented deleveraging facing the sector but saying technical analysis suggested the sector 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.

Citigroup said its near term preferred bank is Barclays , up 1.7 percent, while it reiterated its buy ratings on Lloyds Banking Group , HSBC and Standard Chartered .

Royal Bank of Scotland slightly underperformed the sector as Citi cut its rating on the UK lender to neutral from buy on valuation grounds and concerns over the proposed GBM restructuring.

Miners <.FTNMX1770> were the strongest gainers, rising in tandem with base metal 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 2.3 percent as investors cheered the global miner's announcement of a $3.4 billion expansion of iron ore mining in Australia.

BHP Billiton underperformed the sector, 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.

Elsewhere, Reckitt Benckiser gained 3.4 percent, bouncing after recent falls on the back of bearish broker sentiment ahead of its results.

The company, which makes Cillit Bang cleaning products and Air Wick air fresheners, posted full-year results that 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 , however, fell 3.4 percent after the company said achieving its 2013 earnings target could prove challenging following a drop in hydro generation prices in Brazil.

Retailers Marks & Spencer and Next shed 0.9 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively, after British Retail Consortium data said on Wednesday showed shop prices rose at their slowest pace in almost two years in January as food and non-food inflation slowed.

And Cairn Energy lost 1.6 percent as JP Morgan cut its recommendation on the company to neutral from overweight.

Only one UK blue chip firm will trade ex-dividend on Wednesday, with software firm Sage Group SGE.L knocking 0.36 points of the FTSE 100 index.

(Editing by Hans-Juergen Peters)