<br /><br />
In early trading, the FTSE 100 was up, tracking rises in Asia, as hopes were raised ahead of upcoming positive economic data from Europe.
<br /><br />
Insurer <strong>Standard Life</strong> was one of the morning's biggest risers, adding 5.18 per cent as the firm reported half-year profit was up by a forecast-beating 15 per cent. <br /><br />
Water companies <strong>United Utilities</strong> and <strong>Severn Trent</strong> also led the risers this morning, adding 4.14 per cent and 2.69 per cent respectively. <br /><br />
Gambling group <strong>Sportingbet</strong> moved up almost 3 three per cent thanks to good fourth-quarter results, including strong performance within the group's Australia division. <br /><br />
Building materials maker <strong>CRH</strong> lost 5.17 per cent as earnings slipped in the first half of the year thanks to deteriorating confidence in its European business. <br /><br />
Investment company <strong>Ecofin Water & Power Opportunities</strong> shed 2.74 per cent in early trading, while platinum firm <strong>Lonmin</strong> shouldered a 2.23 per cent drop as reports emerged of nine killed in violent clashes at one of its South African mine. <br /><br />
The UK banking sector was a mixed bag, with <strong>HSBC</strong> adding 0.57 per cent, <strong>Barclays</strong> adding 1.64 per cent and <strong>Lloyds Banking Group</strong> up 0.52 per cent. Only <strong>RBS</strong> was down, dropping 0.72 per cent. <br /><br />
In Asia, the <strong>Nikkei</strong> ended the day 0.5 per cent up, despite lower-than-expected GDP growth that came out yesterday, as investors eyed up further economic stimulus.