LONDON -- U.K. stocks shook off early weakness to finish solidly higher.

The benchmark

FTSE

closed out the day up 41.8, or 0.7%, to 6283. And it would have done even better if it had not been for

Vodafone AirTouch

(VOD) - Get Report

, Monday's highest profile loser. Vodafone ended 21.5p lower at 280 ($4.37), knocking 100 points out of the Footsie. This despite announcing an alliance with

Centrica

to market mobile telephones in the U.K.

Community Hospitals

was today's biggest gainer, finishing 254p higher, or 78.2%, at 562 after announcing that it is in talks with medical insurer

BUPA

and other parties that may lead to an offer.

Oil stocks were also better, with

BP Amoco

(BPA)

27p higher, or 5.1%, at 555, and

Shell

(SC) - Get Report

up 26p, or 8.3%, to 508. The better tone reflected a rise in heating oil prices in the US.

In the media sector,

Emap

jumped 20p, or 1.7%, to

11.93 on

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

bid speculation, while

Reuters

(RTRSY)

recovered from an early loss of 32p to close 4p dearer on balance at

11.29.

Tech stocks were a bit of a mixed bag, but retained a reasonably firm undertone on the back of the current gains in the Nasdaq composite index.

Psion

finished 203p, or 7.7%, higher at

28.23, and

Baltimore Technologies

(BALTV)

managed to finish with a gain of 54p, or 1.0%, to

55.48. However,

Affinity Internet

slipped 100p, or 5.1%, to

18.50 and

Staffware

lost 75p, or 4.4%, to

16.25.

It was a similar story on the Continent. After suffering in the morning, Europe's other bourses turned around and the

Xetra Dax

in Frankfurt closed up 116.36, or 1.6%, at 7,280.51 and the

CAC 40

in Paris ended up 85.78, or 1.4%, to 6,320.29.

After being sold off in the morning, most tech stocks recovered.

Siemens

(SMWAY)

closed up 1.75 euros, or 1.2%, at 151.60,

Epcos

(EPC) - Get Report

ended up 4.45,euros, or 3.3% at 138.30 and software maker

SAP

(SAP) - Get Report

finished up 1.08 euros, or 0.2%, at 601.70.