The top share index pushed higher on Thursday led by banks and miners as investors looked ahead for more upbeat news on the U.S. economy and bet Greece will be able to carry off a key bond swap needed to avoid a messy debt default.
Major banks and pension funds, representing about 40 percent of Greece's outstanding debt, threw their weight behind Athens' bond swap offer to private creditors on Wednesday, raising the likelihood that the deal will go through and a 130 billion euro international bailout package will be secured.
The offer expires at 8 p.m. on Thursday.
Banks were higher, led by HSBC up 0.6 percent, as the sector benefited from hopes that the Greek bond swap will ease worries over the debt crisis in Europe.
Miners were the top blue chip gainers, carrying over the previous session's rally as copper prices rose on an improving demand picture, helped by the Greek bond swap hopes and some upbeat U.S. data.
A slightly better than expected U.S. ADP private sector employment report on Wednesday has paved the way for further optimism ahead of Friday's keenly-watched non-farm payrolls report, for which U.S. weekly jobs data and Challenger Lay-offs report will bring some final clues on Thursday.
With the solutions being offered for the euro zone debt crisis looking to be working, and as upbeat U.S. macro economic data provides some relief, hard-pressed investors can finally focus again on fundamentals and seek out risk and valuation returns, said Henk Potts, market analyst at Barclays Wealth.
At 8.56 a.m., the FTSE 100 index was up 32.59 points, or 0.6 percent at 5,824.00, having added 0.4 percent on Wednesday, regaining more of Tuesday's 1.9 percent slide, which was its steepest one-day fall since mid-December.
Earnings news also provided a positive focus for some blue chip firms on Thursday.
Wm Morrison Supermarkets gained 2.4 percent as Britain's fourth-biggest food retailer posted a better than expected 8 percent rise in full-year profits, although it said the 2012 outlook remained tough.
Without trying to draw as much meaning from ancillary figures as possible, the bottom line here is the good news continues for a group (Morrison) that has not only consistently outperformed its peers but the broader market, too, said David White, a trader at Spreadex.
Insurer Aviva was also buoyed by above-forecast full-year results, adding 1.9 percent, which were helped by better profit margins in its life insurance business.
The top FTSE 100 riser, however, was chip designer ARM Holding, ahead 3.2 percent, with traders citing the impact of an upgrade in rating by Morgan Stanley to overweight.
On the downside, mobile phones heavyweight Vodafone was a big blue chip faller, down 0.5 percent after the Financial Times said the firm is edging towards making an indicative offer for Cable & Wireless Worldwide ahead of the Takeover Panel's 'put-up-or-shut-up' deadline on Monday.
Defensively-perceived stocks were the main FTSE 100 fallers as investors' risk appetite returned, with utilities the worst off led by gas distributor Centrica, down 0.4 percent, and multi-utilities Scottish & Southern Energy and United Utilities, off 0.23 percent and 0.2 percent respectively.
Investors were also awaiting results of the Bank of England and the European Central Bank latest meetings on Thursday.
Both banks are expected to leave interest rates on hold and give markets time to absorb last month's liquidity injections before considering any more such measures.
No domestic economic data will be released on Thursday.
(Editing by Mark Potter)