LONDON -- An overwrought

FTSE 100

toiled away for most of the session as it tried to make sense of conflicting signals from Wall Street. At one point it fell to a session low of 6,240.5, but it recovered a degree of poise to close 17.1 points lower at 6,247.70.

The

techMARK 100

put in a respectable performance as a degree of sanity returned to the giddy tech sector following the recent indiscriminate sell-off. The index eventually closed 25.75 points higher at 3,618.88.

The crisis in the Middle East, combined with forecasts of a cold winter in Europe and the United States., helped to drive energy prices higher. The rising cost of crude oil boosted

BP

(BP) - Get Report

and

Shell

(SC) - Get Report

. BP rose 16p to close at 626.5 ($9.07). Meanwhile Shell added 11.5p to 581.5, boosted by news that it is to buy New Zealand's

Fletcher Challenge Energy

unit for

1.3 billion together with

Apache Corp

(APA) - Get Report

.

In the tech sector, IT services and software stocks gained ground.

Misys

notched up a 2.6% gain to close at 695.5p. Meanwhile, its peer

Sema

attracted what little cash was around to end the session 23p higher at

11.70.

Chip stocks gained across the board.

ARM Holdings

( ARMHY) gained 14p to 686, while its smaller brother

Parthus

climbed 4.5p to 267.5. Elsewhere, market new boy

ARC International

advanced 5p to end the day at 346.5p.

Internet stocks headed north, as investors anticipated good numbers from

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

later this evening.

QXL

(QXLC)

surged 10% to 38.5p, while

Freeserve

(FREE)

reached a session high of 221.75 before falling back to close 0.75p lower at 210.25p.

The two telecom heavyweights,

Vodafone

(VOD) - Get Report

and

British Telecom

( BTY) diverged once again. Vodafone, the index's biggest stock, remained in favor and closed 6p higher at 249. In contrast, disgruntled retail investors dumped BT in the absence of any news of a break up. BT shares closed 8.5p lower at 727.5.

Elsewhere in the sector,

Energis

( ENGSY) benefited from an upgrade from

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

. The broker retained its "strong buy" recommendation and price target of 750p. Energis closed 7p higher at 444. Meanwhile,

Colt Telecom

( COLT) attracted enough investors to finish the day 5p to the good at

18.33

Europe's other major stock markets ended mixed Tuesday, as the

CAC 40

in Paris closed up 33.2, or 0.5%, at 6,143.3 and the

Xetra Dax

in Frankfurt was down 13.2, or 0.2%, at 6,667.6 late in the German trading day. The Neuer Markt's tech-heavy

Nemax 50

index was 64.1 lower, or 1.4%, at 4,481.1.

Carmaker

DaimlerChrysler

( DCX) surged 1.45 euros, or 2.8%, to 53.20 ($46.19), after

Credit Suisse First Boston

rated the company's shares a "buy." Rival

Volkswagen

(VLKAY)

was down 0.40 euros, or 0.7%, at 55.05.

E.ON

( EON) dropped 0.10 euros, or 0.2%, to 59.50, after the utility said it expected earnings to drop due to falling electricity prices.

Telecom shares were mixed across the Continent, as

France Telecom

(FTE)

fell 5.40 euros, or 5%, to 103.10 amid continuing speculation it will bid for

Equant

(ENT) - Get Report

, which closed up 1.50 euros, or 3.8%, to 41.50.

Deutsche Telekom

( DT) was down 0.57 euros, or 1.5%, at 36.94 and

Telefonica

(TEF) - Get Report

closed up 0.10 euros, or 0.5%, at 22.65.