Record results from BP helped the FTSE 100 Index creep even closer to the landmark 5000 barrier yesterday .
Shares in the UK's largest company rose one per cent after it announced profits of £8.7 billion, adding to the rosy glow around the sector generated by Shell last week.
The Footsie ended the day 15.7 points ahead at 4995.5 - its highest close since the summer of 2002.
Extra momentum came from across the Atlantic, where the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 23 points higher by the time London closed.
Jimmy Yates, a trader at deal4free.com, said: "Without doubt 5000 on the FTSE is now within striking distance and psychologically this could prove to be a difficult level to break."
In London, BP advanced 3p to 547p after the soaring oil price lifted its results performance and Cairn Energy was up 12p at 1147p. Rival Shell, which last week unveiled even bigger profits, also cheered 21/4p to 4863/4p.
Significant gains came from the hotel sector after broker UBS issued a positive note on Hilton. Hilton rose 51/2p to 3101/4p, but was beaten on the risers board by rival InterContinental Hotels, which advanced 15p to 697p.
Favourable broker comments were also stoking interest in the tobacco sector, with Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein now urging investors to buy shares in BAT, which rose 10p to 9821/2p. Silk Cut owner Gallaher and Imperial Tobacco also improved, up 15p and 21 p to 8271/2p and 1459p respectively.
In contrast, sugar group Tate & Lyle featured on the fallers board despite unveiling a deal to supply its sweetener to Diet Coke.
Shares rose seven per cent yesterday but fell back one per cent on the announcement, off 51/2p to 4951/2p as the firm said the move would not materially affect short-term earnings.
Outside the top flight, gaming group Wembley cheered nine per cent, up 67p to 808p, after agreeing to offload its division in the United States.
Tool rental company Brandon Hire added 4p to 1721/2p, a rise of more than two per cent.
Defence group Chemring moved up 241/2p to 436p after saying the determination of the Pentagon to protect military planes from missile attack was fuelling hopes of higher sales in 2005.
IT group EDS advanced half a penny to 831/2p as it said new business and cost-cutting had helped it back into tack in the fourth quarter.
The biggest Footsie risers were Schroders up 241/2p to 793p, Schroders NV adding 181/2p to 7181/2p, Bunzl up 113/4p to 4763/4p and ITV adding 3p to 122p.
The heaviest fallers were Corus down 11/2p to 561/2p, Reckitt Benckiser falling 26p to 1581p, Kingfisher down 41/4p to 3071/4p and Rio Tinto falling 22p to 1650p.