A year-end Santa Rally held firm as the FTSE 100 Index edged closer to the 6000 mark.
The Footsie added 7.9 points to 5991.3, with trading volumes thin ahead of the Christmas holidays and little in the way of corporate or UK economic news to push stocks higher.
Giles Watts, head of equities at City Index, said the 6000 mark – not hit since early June 2008 – was “psychologically important”.
Investors were buoyed by reassurance from China that it is prepared to purchase Portuguese debt, reiterating their support for the eurozone and its currency.
The support lifted banking stocks, with Royal Bank of Scotland up 0.3p at 41p and Barclays, which is heavily exposed to the Iberian peninsula, ahead 1.3p at 268.7p.
Traders are also expected to focus on US economic indicators, with eyes on job figures and new home sales data.
Oil giant BP was among the blue chip stocks making gains in London, climbing 6.9p to 476.9p after oil prices approached a two-year high, boosted by data showing a drop in US oil stocks ahead of an unexpected surge in global demand.
Retailers were also prominent on the risers board, with hopes high for today to mark the busiest shopping day in the UK as consumers scramble to make last-minute Christmas purchases.
Marks & Spencer rose 2.1p to 375.1p, while B&Q parent Kingfisher added 4.5p to 262.6p and supermarket Sainsbury’s lifted 2.9p to 379.9p.
The retail sector has had a poor run recently as the severe weather has kept potential shoppers away from the high street.