The FTSE 100 is down 8.6 points, or 0.14%, to 6,357.5, as bid speculation is being offset by stocks going ex-dividend.
ICI is posting the biggest gains with a rise of 2.92% to 555.5p, and Home Retail has added 2.56% to 460.5p, as both stocks are the subject of vague bid talk, while supermarket chain Tesco is up 1.11% to 456.5p.
Miner Xstrata is also performing well with a rise of 1.34% to £27.20, while Scottish & Newcastle is up 2.15% to 618.5p, although gains are being limited by Cadbury Schweppes which has slipped 1.12% to 664p, and Hanson which is down 1.63% to 816p.
However, the losers are dominated by stocks which have gone ex-dividend today including Alliance & Leicester which has slipped 2.86% to £11.22, while Kingfisher has dropped 1.86% to 277.25p, although Pearson is currently the biggest loser with a fall of 2.89% to 856.5p.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 Stock Average jumped 300.04, or 1.7%, to 17,544.09, as exporters rose after the yen and oil prices fell.
Toyota gained 120 yen, or 1.6%, to 7,540, while Canon jumped 170 yen, or 2.7%, to 6,440, and Honda surged 100 yen, or 2.4%, to 4,250, as the yen fell 0.9% to 118.96 against the dollar.
Mazda Motor gained 17 yen, or 2.6%, to 667, while Daihatsu Motor climbed 30 yen, or 2.7%, to 1,139, Inpex, Japan's biggest oil explorer, slid 30,000 yen, or 2.9%, to 1 million, and Japan Petroleum Exploration slipped 110 yen, or 1.3%, to 8,450.
Elsewhere, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, the nation's largest bank by assets, rose 20,000 yen, or 1.5%, to 1.38 million, while Mizuho Financial Group added 19,000 yen, or 2.5%, to 783,000, and Fast Retailing surged 590 yen, or 6.7%, to 9,360.
In the US, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 128 points, or 1.03%, to 12,510.3, as oil prices tumbled and investors welcomed indications of improving home sales.
Procter & Gamble was the only loser yesterday with a fall of 0.19% to $62.90, as crude oil for May delivery fell 2% to $64.64 a barrel, and the National Association of Realtors' index of signed purchase agreements for existing homes climbed 0.7%.
Home Depot posted the biggest gains with a rise of 2.28% to $37.63, closely followed by Altria Group which added 2.1% to $69.65, while General Motors climbed 2.08% to $31.47, Alcoa gained 2.06% to $34.62, and Du Pont advanced 1.69% to $49.89.
If you have any comments you would like to add to this story or would like to speak to its author about a similar subject, telephone Nyree Stewart on 020 7034 2681 or email [email protected]IFAonline
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