Blue chip shares struggled to make headway in afternoon trading as investors had little economic or corporate news to trade on in a quiet run up to the Christmas break.

The FTSE 100 Index was 3.3 points higher at 7020.5, as the market manged to keep its head above the psychologically-important 7000-mark. FTSE 250 Index dipped by 47.6 points to 17734.8.

The biggest riser in the top flight was Lloyds Banking Group, which agreed to buy one of the UK's biggest credit card businesses, MBNA, for £1.9bn in cash.

The bank, which was rescued by the taxpayer during the financial crisis eight years ago, said the move will boost its position in the British "prime credit card market".

The UK lender will buy the business from FIA Jersey Holdings Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Bank of America. Shares in Lloyds lifted, 2.7%, or 1.7p to 64.3p.

Spreadex financial analyst Connor Campbell said: "The move is especially noteworthy given that it is Lloyds' first acquisition since the 2008 financial crisis, with investors perhaps hoping the deal signals a new era for the bank."

In afternoon trading the biggest risers in the FTSE 100 Index were Lloyds Banking Group (+1.7p to 64.3p), Barratt Developments (+7.5p to 468.7p), Mediclinic International (+12p to 750.5p), Barclays (+2.8p to 225p) and Prudential (+19.5p to 1579.5p).

The biggest fallers in the FTSE 100 Index were Hikma Pharmaceuticals (-30p to 1831p), Dixons Carphone (-5.1p to 339.7p), Capita (-6p to 495p), Convatec Group (-2.5p to 226.5p) and Coca-Cola HBC (-18p to 1650p).

In afternoon trading the biggest risers in the FTSE 250 Index were Paysafe Group (+17.5p to 359.6p), Daejan Holdings (+195p to 6130p), Fidessa Group (+50p to 2299p), Evraz (+4.3p to 217.3p) and HarbourVest Global Private Equity (+20p to 1130p).

The biggest fallers in the FTSE 250 Index were Polypipe Group (-11.8p to 309.7p), Halma (-34.5p to 910p), John Laing (-8.7p to 268.3p), Just Eat (-17.5p to 558p) and Kaz Minerals (-10.4p to344.80p).