LONDON -- Convincing performances by technology stocks lifted the U.K. markets higher, but the Continental markets had to recover from a setback after the
European Central Bank's
decision to raise interest rates by a quarter of a percentage point to 4.5%.
struggled to break free to embark on its bull run, and by midday stood 10 points up at 6625.10. A panoply of tech stocks pushed the
to levels not seen since the sector slumped in April; the index was 72.18 points higher to 4029.4.
Leading the charge was
, up 15% to 246.5, while cable operator
rose 11p to 160 as speculation about a possible bid continues.
rose sharply, up 17.5p to 580.5, as did
, up 128p to
, though, was down 1.75p to 271.
Internet stocks rallied following positive noises for
across the pond overnight. Online auctioneer
was the FTSE 250's biggest riser, up 7p to 58, while
, which announced a 56% drop in profits for the last quarter, climbed 5p to stand at 129.5. Even
added 9.4% to stand at 261.5p as takeover rumors persist.
was volatile as the share price of Europe's second-biggest pay-TV operator fell as low as
10.79 in heavy trading, but by midday was only 38p down at
11.30. The activity was prompted by confirmation that
, Germany's biggest pay-television company, will sell its 3.1% stake, or 58 million shares, at
10.25 each, a 12% discount to Wednesday's close. The large discount surprised analysts because BSkyB is well positioned in the digital TV market.
In the pharmaceutical sector, shares in
were boosted by news that it will sell Kytril, its drug for cancer treatment side effects, to
upon completion of its merger with
. SmithKline shares reached a session high of 901.5p before settling back to stand 2p down at 883. Glaxo was up 5p to
Most of Europe's Continental stock markets managed to climb higher after slipping in the run up to the ECB's decision. Midday, the
in Paris was up 8.17 to 6642.79 and the
in Frankfurt was up 39.43 to 7224.99. The
index was 47.2 higher to 5995.5.
German tech stocks gained support as ISP
climbed 1.39 euros, or 5%, to 29.49 ($26.34), after reporting surging first-half sales.
rose 1.35 euros to 177.70,
gained 1.30 euros to 110.10 and software maker
moved 7.65 euros higher to 279.30.
Financial stocks remained pressured before the ECB's move, with
down 1.04 euros to 96.25,
off 0.16 euro to 50.24 and French insurer
down 3.20 euros to 161.30.