The benchmark FTSE 100 ended up 44.80 points at 4,537.00 after UK stocks rose for the third day in four, led by a gas company.
BG Group rose 12.5p to 329.5p on continued speculation the company, once part of the UK gas monopoly, may fall to a larger competitor.
BHP Billiton gained 18.75p to 512.75p. The mining company has agreed to sell $9bn of iron ore to four Chinese steelmakers.
Abbey National fell 3.8% to 466.5p after an analyst at Merrill Lynch cut his recommendation on the shares to "neutral" from "buy". The Glasgow-based firm today announced it will not pay bonuses on some life-insurance policies, arguing it still has a shortfall to make up from the previous three years.
In the meantime, Aviva rose 8p to 572p.
BAE Systems, a weapons maker, climbed 4.75p to 195p.
Exel lost 21p to 749p after the logistics firm reported 2003 net income dropped 12% compared with the previous year on lower US air-freight demand and the weak dollar.
GKN shed 9.25p to 265p. The aerospace parts maker said 2003 net income rose 1% from the year earlier to £101m after sales increased.
Management Consulting Group added 3.25p to 36.25p. The adviser said it expects trading to improve in 2004 despite reporting a full-year net loss of £4.9m, compared with a net income of £4.3m in 2002.
Marks & Spencer Group added 6.25p to 299.25p after it announced it will sell about £400m of bonds to cover a pension-fund deficit.
Scottish and Southern Energy jumped 21.5p to 706p after UBS AG raised its rating on the company's shares to "buy" from "neutral".
In the US, the Dow Jones Industrial Average index is currently up about 42 points to 10,626 and the S&P 500 index has so far gained about 5 points to 1,149.
Nasdaq's Composite index is up about 7 points to 2,036.IFAonline
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