London’s blue-chip share index powered to its highest level for more than four years as America’s earnings season got off to an upbeat start.
The FTSE 100 Index closed up 45 points to 6098.7, after gaining more than £11.4 billion - a height not seen since May 2008.
Across the Atlantic the Dow Jones Industrial Average on Wall Street was more than 80 points higher in early trading after aluminium giant Alcoa posted solid fourth quarter figures yesterday.
The pound was down against the US dollar and the euro at 1.60 and 1.22 respectively, after UK trade figures showed only a small improvement on the trade deficit in November.
Banking stocks led the top flight charge after UBS upgraded Lloyds Banking Group from neutral to buy and raised its price target to 60p on the hope that rising margins, falling costs and lower provisions for bad debt will boost profitability.
Its shares leapt 5% higher, up 2.5p to 53.4p, while Royal Bank of Scotland was up 12.9p to 349.9p and Barclays lifted 7.6p to 294.8p.
The biggest FTSE 100 risers were Lloyds Banking Group up 2.5p to 53.4p, Royal Bank of Scotland ahead 12.9p to 349.9p, Meggitt 15.5p higher at 425p and Wood Group up 24.5p to 774p.
The biggest FTSE 100 fallers were Sainsbury’s down 9.8p to 329.2p, Aviva off 8.2p to 373.7p, British Sky Broadcasting 14.5p lower at 778p and British Land Company down 8.5p to 568.5p.