The top share index edged higher in choppy early trade on Wednesday, as investors cheered updates from Intertek and Meggit, while worries over Europe's debt crisis prevented the index from pushing higher.
London's blue chip index <.FTSE> was up 12.90 points or 0.2 percent at 5,530.34 by 0858 GMT, having erased intraday losses on Tuesday, after decent U.S. retail sales figures boosted confidence that the world's biggest economy was in better shape than had been thought.
Investors continued to reward companies taking steps to increase their earnings in austere conditions.
Testing firm Intertek
Aircraft parts supplier Meggitt
Consumer goods group Reckitt Benckiser (RB)
RB remains one of our top picks across the European consumer staples space, Citigroup said, adding it expected the group to generate growth ahead of its global peer group.
Trading across the FTSE remained extremely choppy, with the FTSE volatility index, a gauge of investor nervousness, up 8.8 percent in November.
Investors nerves continued to jangle as the political and economic outlook in the euro zone remained uncertain.
Italian Prime Minister designate Mario Monti was expected to unveil Italy's new government, while in Athens, new prime minister Lucas Papademos expects an easy win in a confidence vote, but investors said they wanted more action on the economic front from the new leaders.
Although the new Italian leader stated yesterday that he is confident that Italy can overcome the recent crisis, many investors are still waiting to see real action on the ground rather than rhetoric, and are therefore continuing to punish Italy as a result, Zahid Mahmood, senior dealer at Capital Spreads.
Italian 10-year bond yields remained near 7 percent, a level of funding costs seen as unsustainable in the long run for the debt-ridden country, while Spanish 10-year bond yields were up at around 6.1 percent.
Highlighting the impact the debt crisis is having on corporates, ICAP
Anglo-Dutch publishing and events group Reed Elsevier
Small-cap video games retailer Game Group
Ex-dividend factors also took a hefty 15.28 points off the FTSE 100, mostly accounted for by market heavyweight Vodafone
On the macroeconomic front, unemployment numbers will be released at 9:30 a.m., with the October claimant count seen rising by 20,000, after a 17,500 increase in September. September's ILO unemployment rate was seen increasing to 8.2 percent from 8.1 percent.
November's Bank of England inflation report will be published at 10:30 a.m.
(Additional reporting by Jon Hopkins; Editing by David Holmes.)