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FTSE boosted by strong results from UK companies and Greek debt rescue

BRITAIN’S top share index rose yesterday, buoyed by consensus beating results from UK corporates and as anxiety over the Eurozone’s debt crisis eased, though BP sank as a major oil spill worsens.

The FTSE 100 closed up 31.23 points, or 0.6 per cent, at 5,617.84, but the index remains down 1.9 per cent on the week as jitters surrounding the euro zone's debt problems remain.

UK blue chips lifted some of the gloom hanging over the market, as investors cheered some bumper results.

Pay TV firm BSkyB rose 4.9 per cent as its quarterly results beat forecasts, showing huge demand for high definition services.

Unilever added 3.3 per cent after the consumer goods giant beat estimates with a rise in underlying sales in early 2010.

InterContinental Hotels, the world's biggest hotelier, gained 6.1 per cent as a read-across from Britain's biggest hotel operator Whitbread's expectation beating full-year results.

Drinks producer Diageo climbed 2.5 per cent as French peer Pernod Ricard lifted its full-year profit target and posted third quarter sales above forecasts.

Banks were the best performing sector as Greece readied severe austerity measures to secure a planned aid package that would be bigger than initially thought, soothing market worries.

Barclays, Standard Chartered, HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group rose 1.5 to 2.6 per cent.

Officials from the IMF, the ECB and the EU met Greek representatives, and sources familiar with the talks said details of a three-year deal would be announced by Monday.