The FTSE 100 index has gained 13.3 points, or 0.2%, to 5941.6 points this morning, on the back of latest business figures from Standard Life.
Although Standard Life is not yet a member of the FTSE 100 - albeit it is expected to enter the blue chip stock index in September as it has sufficient market capitalisation - the firm has seen its share price rise 2.75p, or 1.1%, to 252.75p this morning, after it said sales increased to £745m from £624m a year earlier, beating the company's own estimate of £680m.
This has helped to lift the share values of rival life insurers already listed on the FTSE 100 index, such as Aviva, Friends Provident and Prudential.
Elsewhere, Anglo American has advanced 18p, or 0.8%, to £2.53p and BHP Billiton has gained 7p, or 0.7%, to £10.21 after copper futures in Shanghai rose to the highest in two weeks.
Corus Group has slipped 4.75p, or 1.1%, to 424.5p as Goldman Sachs downgraded its stock recommendation for the UK's biggest steelmaker to "in-line" from "outperform".
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 Stock Average slipped 15.9 points, or 0.1%, to just under 15,441 points, led by exporters on concern the US central bank will raise interest rates at its next meeting.
Canon fell 60 yen, or 1.09%, to 5,450 yen and Toyota dropped 70 yen, or 1.16%, to 5,990 yen.
Drugmakers gained after Daiichi Sankyo raised its full- year profit forecast and Takeda Pharmaceutical said first quarter net income climbed. Daiichi Sankyo gained 80 yen, or 2.54%, to 3,230 yen and Takeda advanced 80 yen, or 1.08%, to 7,480 yen.
Mitsui Fudosan gained 25 yen, or 1.03%, to 2,460 yen after it said first-quarter profit jumped and a report by the National Tax Agency showed land prices in Japan gained for the first time in 14 years.
In the US, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 34 points, or 0.3%, to end at 11,185.68 points yesterday, as a handful of disappointing earnings dimmed the outlook for profits and inflationary concerns crept back into the picture.
Avon shares sank nearly 12%, or $3.82, to $28.99 after it said second-quarter profit plunged because of job cuts and other restructuring moves.
US crude oil for September delivery rose $1.16 to settle at $74.40 a barrel, taking shares of airlines lower. Continental Airlines fell 7.5%, or $2.12, to $26.34 and AMR, the operator of American Airlines, lost 5.4%, or $1.25, to $22.
Stocks in the energy sector rose along with the price of crude. Schlumberger rose 2.5%, or $1.60, to $66.85 and ConocoPhillips gained 1%, or 69 cents, to $68.64.IFAonline
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