Shares in British banks were up on the FTSE 100 in morning trading as strong company results helped offset fears about sovereign debt in the eurozone.

This week has seen some of Britain's largest retailers report on their Christmas trading period. While there were fears that the heavy snow at the end of last year could have hit them hard, Morrisons, Marks & Spencer and J Sainsbury have all released reasonably good rises in sales in the period.

The news gave hope that Britain's economic recovery may be more stable then previously hoped for and also helped offset recent rumblings from the eurozone.

Portugal is currently under pressure to accept a bailout from the EU and IMF, following similar bailouts for Ireland and Greece last year. Portugal has until now denied that it needs or wants a bailout, just as Ireland did shortly before being pushed into one by the EU.

By 10:25 shares in Lloyds Banking Group were up 1.25 per cent to 67.01 pence per share, RBS shares increased 0.42 per cent to 40.43 pence per share, Barclays shares rose 1.94 per cent to 297.65 pence per share and HSBC shares climbed 2.80 per cent to 708.00 pence per share.

Overall the FTSE 100 was up 0.52 per cent to 6,045.29.