Jitters ahead of the General Election failed to prevent London shares making progress last night.
Positive updates from blue-chip steelmaker Corus and tobacco group BAT helped drive the market forward, while a good start to trading across the Atlantic also added momentum.
Despite a lacklustre start to trading, the FTSE 100 Index ended the session 21.3 points higher at 4882.5.
The Footsie received a late boost from New York's Dow Jones Industrial Average, which stood around 70 points higher by the end of trading in London.
But experts said trading volumes were thin in London as investors remained cautious ahead of tomorrow's election.
Paul Webb, a trader at deal4free.com, said: "There's concern over a number of marginal seats and a narrow victory could leave the markets faced with some uncertainty over policy as we move into the summer.
Corus was the biggest blue-chip climber after completing a key milestone in its restructuring with the launch of a £79 million upgrade at one of its plants. Shares lifted 1.25p to 45.5p. BAT was also upbeat after announcing first quarter profits had risen by 8.5 per cent following good growth across most of its businesses.
Its shares advanced 21.5p to 995.5p, also lifting rival Gallaher 11p to 820p.
But further bleak news from the retail sector sent a clutch of high street names into the red, with Marks & Spencer shares down 5.25p to 338.25p, Next off 28p at 1475p and Dixons down 1.75p to 142.75p.
The downbeat mood was set by FTSE 250 Index stock Matalan, which announced an 8.8 per cent fall in like-for-like sales for March and April, adding that it was on course to post results at the bottom end of market expectations. Shares fell 9.25p to 183.75p. HMV fell 9.25p to 218p as it said same store sales weakened by 2.2 per cent in the 14 weeks to April 30.
But French Connection bucked the trend - rising 7.25p to 255p - as investors warmed to news that improvements to ranges had been well-received and were having a positive impact on sales.
Telecoms equipment group Marconi was also closely watched after its failure to land a major BT contract resulted in a 50 per cent fall in the share price on Thursday and Friday last week. The stock lifted in early trading but later fell back to stand 6p lower at 275p.
Housebuilders were out of favour after the announcement that developer Heron would not be pursuing an offer for Crest Nicholson. A survey showing that housebuilding slackened off for the second month in a row in April after six years of growth also hit the sector.
Crest lost 5.25p to 372.5p, Persimmon dipped 26.5p to 675p and Wilson Bowden fell 40p to 1045p.