The FTSE received a much-needed shot in the arm last night when a ruling on a blockbuster drug boosted shares in pharmaceutical firms.
Both AstraZeneca and rival GlaxoSmithKline made strong gains after regulators said AstraZeneca's cholesterol drug Crestor was not more likely to cause muscle damage than similar treatments.
At home, AstraZeneca was the fourth highest Footsie climber, adding nearly four per cent, or 79p to 2152p, while Glaxo advanced three per cent, up 36p to 1318p.
The session's highest riser was Rentokil Initial, whose stock cheered five per cent - up 8p to 1701/4p.
Oil stocks also contributed to the improvement with high crude prices helping BP cheer 7p to 569p, Shell rise 51/2p to 5001/2p and smaller exploration company Cairn Energy lift 9p to 1249p.
Among those heading in the opposite direction, Lloyds TSB slipped 21/2p to 4881/4p on the eve of its annual results.
Betting firm William Hill was also struggling as it suffered further fallout from Wednesday's results announcement. The stock was the heaviest faller, slipping 17p to 580p, and adding to a three per cent fall in the previous session.
Among lower-tier companies reporting today, shares in newspaper publisher Trinity Mirror surged
six per cent - up 341/2p at 7191/2p - after it posted annual results at the top end of market expectations.
But coal producer UK Coal plunged 13 per cent - off 151/2p to 117p - after slashing its dividend and reporting losses of £51.6 million.
Furniture retailer MFI was another casualty, diving 61/4p to 1281/4p after it said bargain hunting by shoppers in the January sales was likely to eclipse improvements to its troubled supply chain.
Internet clothing retailer ASOS shocked investors with a profits warning after distribution problems forced it to heavily discount stock. It saw its shares plunge 11 per cent, down 7p to 58p, as it warned annual profits would be between £1.1 million and £1.2 million.
Elsewhere, transport group Arriva advanced 6p to 546p as a rise in rail profits contributed to a 15 per cent increase in pre-tax profits before goodwill and one-off items.
And funeral services group Dignity benefited from a successful first year on the stock market by revealing profits rose 31 per cent to a forecast-beating £22 million. This lifted the stock four per cent, up 12p to 351p.
The highest Footsie climbers today were Rentokil Initial advancing 8p to 1701/4p, Bunzl up 211/2p to 528p, AstraZeneca rising 79p to 2152p and GlaxoSmithKline up 36p to 1318p.
The heaviest fallers were William Hill down 17p to 580p, Hanson off 11.75p to 5013/4p, United Utilities down 14p to 5981/2p and National Grid Transco off 101/4p to 4943/4p.