Top shares edged higher in weak volume on Monday, hitting a new three-month high, as investors continued to bet on European Central Bank action to curb high borrowing costs for Spain and Italy that have weighed on regional stock markets.
The FTSE extended its gains from last week, helped by cyclical heavyweight miners, although the low volumes showed many preferred to wait for detail on what form any ECB action would take before buying back in.
"It (the ECB) is obviously planning something of substance and structure and that's what the markets are coming around to recognise," said Brewin Dolphin Securities chief strategist Mike Lenhoff.
At 12.08 p.m. British Time the FTSE 100 was up 13.32 points, or 0.2 percent, at 5,800.60, hitting a new three month high, while volume was weak at 20 percent of its 90-day daily average. It had closed up 2.2 percent on Friday, buoyed by stronger than expected U.S. jobs data.
RMG partner Stewart Richardson remained cautious about the recent boost in risk appetite, however, citing the low volumes.
"This is a sentiment rally not really backed by much volume. We are not going to be chasing the rally, we think it is on somewhat shaky ground and that to get excited about it might be a bit premature."
Leading blue-chip gainer for most of the morning session was Marks and Spencer (M&S) , with traders citing weekend press speculation that it could become a bid target.
The British high street retailer was up 2.6 percent, trading at around 60 percent of its 90-day daily average volume, more than three times the index average.
"We deem ... M&S' brand, market positions and stores to be worth a lot more than the present stock multiples. Accordingly, should bid talk become a lot more serious the upside should be material," Shore Capital said in a note.
The biggest FTSE support, however, was provided by cyclical heavyweight mining stocks <.FTNMX1770>, which climbed 1.2 percent, adding 6 points to the index.
Just as cyclical sectors drove the broad index gains, defensive sectors proved the biggest drag and by mid-session consumer staples, utilities, healthcare and telecoms were all down on the day.
Among the worst-hit stocks was Centrica , down 1.2, percent with leading utilities peers also lower after Deutsche Bank cut its rating to "hold" from "buy" in a sector note, in which it highlighted the firm's lower upstream growth prospects.
(Additional reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Simon Jessop and Catherine Evans)