LONDON -- Contrary to expectations that this morning's session on the London stock market would be dull as dishwater ahead of the Fed's decision on interest rates, it turned out to be just the opposite. The FTSE 100 was 72 points higher to 6319.4, following the lead in the U.S., and investors were up to their necks in company results together with a sprinkling of bids both real and rumored.


jumped 14p, but then retreated to show a gain of just 2p to 182 (US$2.77) on news that it plans to merge with

of Germany on an all-share basis to create the largest European online auction company. The merger outfit is expected to be called QXL ricardo. Ricardo surged 19.50 euros to 199.00.

Bookham Technology


regained some of the sharp losses seen Monday, rising 162p to

37.37, as the company reported that revenue in the first quarter rose 22% to

2.51 million.

BOC Group

(BOX) - Get Report

added 2p to stand at 968, as second-quarter profit rose 19% to

109.3 million, taking earnings for the half year to

160.6 million after an exceptional charge of

50.5 million.

National Power

(NP) - Get Report

rose 16p to 310 despite reporting a

36-million fall in full-year pretax profit to

706 million before exceptional items and

514 million afterward.


shows little reaction to an 18% rise in half-year profit to

35 million and an increased dividend of 43p per share. The company confirmed its May 8 announcement that it is in talks with an unnamed suitor that may, or may not, lead to a formal offer for Perpetual.

Europe's other bourses were also modestly higher, although further gains are likely capped until the Fed makes its rate decision later this afternoon. The

Xetra Dax

in Frankfurt was up 117.88 to 7313.03 and the

CAC 40

in Paris was 101.49 higher to 6493.76. The Neuer Markt's

Nemax 50

index was up 136.16 to 6983.16.

German blue-chip technology shares were able to bounce back after being oversold Monday.


(EPC) - Get Report

was up 1.90 euros to 139.30 (US$126.91),



was up 2.50 euros to 156.55 and software maker


(SAP) - Get Report

rose 6.28 euros to 603.75.

Financial shares were higher in Frankfurt, with

Deutsche Bank


up 1.35 euros to 81.10,



0.11 euro higher to 41.75 and

Dresdner Bank


up 0.68 euro to 44.25.

Rounding out the morning action, European telecoms also posted solid gains Tuesday.

France Telecom


was up 3.60 euros to 154.70,

Deutsche Telekom

(DT) - Get Report

was up 1.28 euros to 63.68 and


(TEF) - Get Report

rose 0.64 euro to 24.26.