The FTSE 100 index has gained 35.8 points or 0.6% to 5,879.9 points today with insurer Aviva leading the charge on the back of forecast-beating results.
Aviva has risen 3.73% to 820.5p after it beat analyst expectations with a 29% rise in 2005 operating profit thanks to a strong performance by its general insurance unit. The company says it is confident of further growth in 2006.
The strong showing has buoyed peers such as Prudential, up 1.15% to 614p, and Royal & Sun Alliance, 2.13% higher at 132p, at a time when there is already speculation about a takeover in the sector.
Rising copper prices have boosted mining stocks with Kazakhmys rising 1.97% to 907p and Xstrata gaining 3.02% to 1,810p.
Improved crude oil prices have helped heavyweight oil stocks like BP, which is up 0.55% at 641p.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 Stock Average index fell 54.7 points or 0.3% to 15,909.76 points, led by steelmakers such as Nippon Steel after JFE Holdings cut its profit forecast for the current business year.
Nippon Steel dropped 19 yen or 4% to 453. The company raised its full-year profit forecast 3.1%, less than forecast by analysts.
JFE fell 160 yen or 3.7% to 4,180. It cut its operating profit forecast 1.9% to 510bn yen for the current financial year.
Meanwhile, exporters such as Toyota and Canon advanced after reports showed rising car sales, manufacturing and consumer spending in the US.
Toyota climbed 60 yen or 1% to 6,210 and Honda added 10 yen or 0.2% to 6,850. It earlier rose as much as 1.2%.
Canon added 30 yen or 0.4% to 7,290 after rising as much as 1.4%.
In the US, the Dow Jones industrial average climbed 60.12 points or 0.55% to end at 11,053.53 points.
Energy companies' shares climbed as US crude for April delivery rose almost 1% or 56 cents to settle at $61.97 a barrel after government inventory data indicated strong gasoline demand.
Shares of Exxon Mobil rose 1.6% or 97 cents to $60.34.
On the earnings front, design software maker Autodesk reported stronger-than-expected profit and lifted its financial forecast for 2007. Autodesk's stock soared 10.7% or $4.03 to $41.68.
Medco Health Solutions reported a stronger-than-expected gain of 33% in quarterly profit and its shares rose 6.4% or $3.56 to $59.28.
But General Motors fell 2% or 41 cents to $19.90 after it said February retail sales rose 1%, while its fleet sales fell 11%.
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 Emily Perryman on 020 7968 4554 or email [email protected].IFAonline
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