There are sales in January, but London's institutional investors appear to prefer quality goods in February.

Whether these investors are actually getting value for money remains to be seen, because Thursday's almost-certain interest rate rise by the

Bank of England

may see the quality stock being offered at January sales prices. The short arms and deep pockets syndrome may well click in, leaving well stocked shelves as prices approach their sell by date.

The buyers are as yet undeterred, and the

FTSE 100

on Tuesday closed up 167.20 points, or 2.7%, at 6285.80.

There is plenty of mileage yet in the banking sector, with institutions placing the bets on who, if anyone, will succeed in taking

NatWest

(NW)

up the aisle.

Bank of Scotland

looks to become the favorite and turned an earlier loss into a gain of 19 ¿, or 3.8%, to 613. The potentially rejected suitor,

Royal Bank of Scotland

, jumped 61p, or 6.2%, to 10.53 pounds. NatWest, the blushing bride, managed a gain of 52p, or 4.8%, to 11.44 pounds

Vodafone AirTouch

(VOD) - Get Report

, which will get a 14% weighting in the FTSE after merging with

Mannesmann

(MNNSY)

, finally benefited from the institutional shift and tracker fund requirements with a gain of 20 3/4p, or 6.2%, to 355 1/4.

Reuters

(RTRSY)

continues to give investors heart attacks, turning a 100p loss soon after its earnings figures into a rise of 232p, or 23.0%, to 12.39 pounds. This set the media sector alight.

Pearson

climbed 174p, or 7.8%, to 23.53 pounds and

BSkyB

(BSY)

motored up 143 1/2, or 9.8%, to 16.10 1/2 pounds.

Many of the continental stock indices pushed to all-time highs, as technology and telecommunication sectors surged. The

Xetra Dax

in Frankfurt closed up 253.56, or 3.5%, to 7549.88 and the

CAC 40

in Paris finished 94.08 higher, or 1.52%, at 6297.66.

In Frankfurt, the technology-telecom combination not only made the Dax soar, but also sent the tech-stuffed

Neuer Markt's Nemax50

index into record territory. Electronics giant

Siemens

(SMAWY)

and

Deutsche Telekom

(DT) - Get Report

lead the way for the Dax, finishing the session up 8 euros, or 4.9%, at 171 and 7.60 euros, or 9.43%, to 88.20 respectively.

Even software maker

SAP

(SAP) - Get Report

and Mannesmann were able to turn early losses around to finish the day with solid gains. SAP closed 41.79 euros higher, or 5%, to 870.10 and Mannesmann closed up 14, or 4.4%, at 329.50.

In Paris the picture was similar, with CAC heavyweight

France Telecom

(FTE)

surging 7.90 euros, or 5.2%, to 160 and oil company

TotalFina

climbing 7.60 euros, or 5.6%, to 142.80.