The London market finished on the front foot yesterday buoyed by a positive start across the Atlantic while Standard Life drew plenty of buying interest during its first session over here.
Shares in the insurer opened at 230p but rose five per cent to 2421/2p
after the stock appeared to attract strong interest from funds keen to guarantee the presence of a future blue-chip stock.
An upbeat start to Wall Street trading and merger and acquisition talk helped buoy the Footsie which closed 8 points higher at 5896.9.
British Airways soared to the top of the risers board up 7p to 366p, amid hopes its joint ownership of a stake in the National Air Traffic Service may be sold.
Shares in Tesco rose 41/2p to 348p on talk it was to make a move on the Polish retailing business of its French rival Casino.
Banking group Alliance & Leicester rose 12p at 1051p, as investors finally drew a line under disappointment at Credit Agricole's decision not to bid for the bank.
Investors continued to buy into the recovery story at Marks & Spencer ahead of the company's first quarter trading update tomorrow.
Shares were up 21/2p at 583p, although Next bettered the performance with a rise of 20p to 1669p.
Going in the opposite direction, the oil sector was affected by the cost
of crude slipping back, as BP dropped 21/2p to 645p, Royal Dutch Shell remained flat at 1932p and Cairn Energy fell 22p to 2144p.
Other falls saw engine supplier Rolls-Royce decline more than one per cent after the planemaker Airbus revealed it had 117 orders in the first six months of 2006, compared with 276 in the January to June 2005 period.
Rolls shares were 5p lower at 4121/2p, while BAE - owner of 20 percent of Airbus - fell 7p to 336.
Outside the top flight, ringtones specialist Monstermob saw its shares plunge by two-thirds after it warned investors that a clampdown on premium message services in China would have a substantial impact on revenues.
Shares dropped 801/2p to 56p - a record low since the firm launched on the stock market three years ago.
Low-cost airline easyJet continued to rally after its revenues and profits upgrade on Friday. Shares were up 111/2p to 4361/2p, a gain of three percent after lifting nine percent in its previous session.
And software developer Autonomy Corporation enjoyed a strong session as its shares rose 171/4p to
426p - up four per cent - following anticipation of record second quarter results. The day's biggest blue chip risers were British Airways up 7p to 366p, Tate & Lyle up 111/2p to
6401/2p, Diageo up 15p to 918p and 3i Group up 121/2p to 9151/2p.
The day's biggest blue chip fallers were Hammerson off 30p to 1211p, BAE Systems down 7p to 336p, PartyGaming down 2p to 106p and Barclays down 91/2p to 618p.