LONDON -- Europe's markets ended higher Tuesday in a session dominated by venerable market elders such as chemical and mining stocks, while technology stocks were largely ignored.

The

FTSE 100

managed to hold onto early gains to close 50 points higher, or 0.8%, at 6438. Volume was thin, as many punters stayed on the sidelines waiting for a sign from the U.S.

In mining stocks,

Billiton

closed 7.6% higher at 263p ($3.84) as aluminum prices continued to rise.

Anglo American

and

Rio Tinto

(RTP) - Get Report

also sparkled as weary investors switched out of tech stocks. Anglo shares ended the day 130p higher, or 3.6%, at

37.60, while Rio closed 55p higher, or 5.2%, at

11.15.

Chemicals stocks also benefited from renewed enthusiasm for traditional stocks.

BOC

(BOX) - Get Report

rose sharply on strong results from French rival

Air Liquide

. Shares in the industrial gas group surged 5.8% to end the day 53p up at 960. Similarly,

ICI

(ICI)

followed up Monday's strong performance to hit a session high of 446p before retreating to close down 1p at 422.

The biggest fall on the main index came from

Smithkline Beecham

(SBH) - Get Report

, which slipped 43p, or 4.6%, to 890p, after announcing delays in its new asthma drugs. Merger partner

Glaxo Wellcome

(GLX)

was deemed guilty by association and was also stung by the

U.S. Food and Drug Administration's

announcement that it would investigate Glaxo's irritable-bowel product Lotronex. The share price fell 84p, or 4.1%, to

19.84.

In tech stocks,

Autonomy Corp.

(AUTN)

made a respectable debut on the London stock market. The stock climbed 5.2% on its listing price to end the day at

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35.40 and is expected to be included in the FTSE 100 index when the index is reshuffled in December.

It was a pretty quiet day in telcos. Investors are still happy with

Cable & Wireless

(CWP)

, despite the CEO's statement today that he wouldn't return any of the

4 billion cash the company holds to shareholders, but will invest in new businesses. The stock advanced 11p, or 1.1%, to 975.

Most of Europe's other stock markets also ended higher, as the

CAC-40

in Paris closed up 100.8, or 1.6%, to 6397.7 and the

Xetra Dax

in Frankfurt was up 126.5, or 1.8%, to 7053.1 late in German trading. However, the

Neuer Markt's

tech-heavy

Nemax 50

index was down 71.7, or 1.5%, to 4680.2.

French telecom equipment maker

Alcatel

(ALA)

closed up 0.90 euros, or 1.3%, at 71.90 ($60.46), after posting solid third-quarter earnings.

Elsewhere in Paris,

France Telecom

(FTE)

fell 4.30 euros, or 3.4%, to 123.20, and

TotalFinaElf

(TOT) - Get Report

rose 3.50 euros, or 2.1%, to 168.60.

In Frankfurt,

Deutsche Telekom

(DT) - Get Report

fell 0.11 euros, or 0.3%, to 43.90, after presenting third-quarter earnings in line with expectations.

German carmakers surged as Old Economy stocks returned to favor.

Volkswagen

(VLKAY)

rose 2.60 euros, or 4.6%, to 58.70, and

DaimlerChrysler

(DCX)

jumped 2.22 euros, or 4.3%, to 54.25.