The FTSE share index ticked higher on Thursday morning, with banks providing the main support on hopes further results from U.S. peers will please, and as euro zone debt fears ease.

The FTSE 100 <.FTSE> index was up 3.45 points, or 0.1 percent at 5,705.82 at 09:08 a.m. BT, having closed 0.2 percent higher on Wednesday to end above the 5,700 level for the first time since end-October.

The FTSE is just flip-flopping around the 5,700 level in the absence of any real drivers at present. Banks are getting a boost from the Goldman results on Wednesday, and hopes for today's U.S. numbers. But otherwise it is pretty dire, said Mic Mills, head of electronic trading at ETX Capital.

Barclays was the top blue-chip gainer, up 3.5 percent, as banks carried over Wednesday's rally after strength in financial stocks overnight on Wall Street and in Asia.

The sector was supported by International Monetary Fund moves on Wednesday to help countries hit by the European debt crisis, and by forecast-busting earnings from Goldman Sachs .

Investors were hoping results from Bank of America and Morgan Stanley on Thursday will mirror Goldman's outperformance.

Integrated oils <.FTNMX0530> were the main drag on blue-chip sentiment, extending the previous session's decline after a good run on higher crude prices earlier in the month.

Miners <.FTNMX1770> also slipped back after gains in the previous session. Russian precious metals miner Polymetal
shed 1.8 percent as its in-line fourth-quarter trading update failed to excite investors.

UP IN SMOKE

Tobacco stocks were weak, led by BAT down 0.9 percent, as Nomura downgraded its stance on the sector to neutral from bullish in a preview of upcoming results, citing high relative valuations.

Food retailers were also hit by broker comment, with Goldman Sachs downgrading its ratings for both Sainsbury and Tesco to sell and neutral respectively. Sainsbury shed 1.4 percent and Tesco lost 0.1 percent.

Among weaker drug stocks, AstraZeneca shed 1.2 percent after U.S. drug regulators said they needed further clinical data, possibly including new clinical studies, before approving a new diabetes drug from the Anglo-Swedish group and U.S. partner Bristol-Myers Squibb .

If one wishes to look on the bright side, the drug is at least still in play. However, the fact that additional clinical data is required, rather than merely further analysis of already-submitted studies, is clearly not ideal, Seymour Pierce said in a note repeating its reduce rating on AstraZeneca.

British consumer morale sank to its second-lowest level in seven years in December, as households' expectations for the first half took a tumble, a survey by the lender Nationwide showed.

No other British data were due on Thursday, so the main economic focus will be across the Atlantic on U.S. inflation numbers, due at 1:30 a.m. BT, with December CPI seen up 0.1 percent on the month, after being unchanged in November.

The latest U.S. weekly jobless claims and December U.S. housing starts will also be released at 1330 GMT, with the January Philly Fed index due at 3:00 p.m. BT.

(Editing by Dan Lalor)