The FTSE 100 index is bouncing back after an up and down week with gains of 42.7 points or 0.78% to 5,538, largely on the back of news affecting British American Tobacco.
Shares in BAT are up 4p or 0.31% to £13.02 after a US court ruled in favour of rival Philip Morris, part of Altria Group, concerning "light" cigarettes - a move which will now form the basis for a similar court judgment in a case involving former BAT unit Brown & Williamson.
Utility Centrica is also among some of the top gainers with an advance of 5p or 2.1% to 243.5p, after the company reassured investors it sees earnings in line with expectations.
Elsewhere, ITV has gained 1.5p, or 1.38%, to 110.25p, on hopes the football World Cup in 2006 will boost the broadcaster's advertising revenues.
Fund manager Amvescap is currently top of the leaderboard with a rise of 13.5p or 3.21% to 434p, after Morgan Stanley increased its rating on the stock, while listed rival Schroders has also gained 12.5p or 1.33% to 955p.
Meanwhile, pharmacy distributor Alliance Unichem, which is merging with retailer Boots, has gained 6.5p or 0.82% to 795.5p, despite stating in a trading statement that although the overall year-to-date-performance was good there was slower growth in the UK and Spain in the second half of the year.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 index slid 81.37 or 0.5% to 15,173.07 at its close a short time ago, on government plans to scrap income tax breaks adopted in 1999 to reduce the budget deficit.
Retailers fell on concern rising tax payments will hinder consumer spending in the world's second-largest economy. The concessions were introduced in 1999 as a temporary measure to spur consumer spending and help prop up stagnating economic growth.
Shares of system developers also declined after the recommendation also included abolishing tax breaks on corporate investments in information technology. NTT Data, the computer systems development unit of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone, lost 13,000 yen, or 2.6%, to 494,000, while Obic, a computer system integration service company, declined 1,380 yen, or 5.5%, to 23,520.
But on the upside, Sumitomo Trust, Japan's fifth-largest lender, advanced 27 yen, or 2.5%, to 1,100, after a brokerage unit raised its rating to "buy'' from "neutral''. Mizuho Financial, the nation's second-largest lender, also rose 13,000 yen, or 1.4%, to 941,000.
Other banking stocks also rose, with Resona Holdings, Japan's fourth-largest lender, advancing 6,000 yen or 1.3% to 484,000, while Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, the third-largest lender in Japan, rose 20,000 yen or 1.7% to 1.23 million.
In the US, the Dow Jones Industrial Average index closed virtually flat at 10,881.67, as lower crude oil prices weighed on the shares of major energy companies, including Exxon Mobil.
Exxon Mobil, fell 0.6%, or $0.37, to close at $59.49, after US crude oil futures for January delivery lost $0.86 to settle at $59.99 a barrel.
But on the upside, shares in Altria gained 4%, or $2.89, to end at $76.62, after the Illinois Supreme Court reversed a $10.1bn verdict against its tobacco unit, Philip Morris USA, which had been accused of defrauding customers into thinking "light" cigarettes were safer than regular cigarettes.
Elsewhere, Symantec fell 2%, or $0.36, to end at $17.38, after the software maker said it will correct classification errors in its most recent cash flow statement.
Shares of for-profit education company Apollo Group also fell 2.9%, or $1.95, to end at $65.92, after it said quarterly earnings rose, but it lowered its full-year revenue forecast.
Meanwhile, Merck gained nearly 2% to end at $29.77, after the company unveiled two new cholesterol drugs and an austerity program that will increase cost savings by another $1bn through 2010.IFAonline
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