The FTSE took its early lead from strong gains in Asia rather than muted US markets, up by 0.5% to 5,723.51.
Asia's Nikkei 225 index had risen 2.1% to 10,013.63 overnight, while America's Dow Jones closed down 0.1% at 11,007.88.
In the UK, SAB Miller jumped 4% to £21.25 after first half earnings beat analyst estimates.
Upbeat announcements from European peers helped British Airways rise 2.5% to 268p.
Eurasian Natural Resources, Kazakhmys and Vedanta Resources each climbed by about 2%, regaining some of the ground the mining sector lost earlier this week.
A 34% increase in half year operating profits helped Investec rise 1.5% to 507.5p.
Among blue chip losers, Capita Group fell 5.3% to 683.5p after reporting subdued second half revenue growth.
Centrica declined 1.3% to 327.8p after Citi cut its recommendation from buy to hold.
Elsewhere, Rolls Royce fell 0.7% to 595.5p after customer Qantas said the engine maker may have to swap about half the engines it supplied for Airbus SAS A380s.
Bucking flat markets in the US, Target jumped 3.9% after forecasting a strong winter holiday season, while Merck rose 1.1% on promising study results for an experimental cholesterol drug.
In Asia, commodities companies softened as China signaled price curbs to rein in inflation.
All eyes today will watch Ireland, which is under increased pressure to agree an EU and IMF rescue package as its banks suffer customers withdrawals.
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