Media reports suggested that Spain and the Netherlands are willing to support a soft Brexit deal, triggering a 1.1% rally in the pound against the dollar.
The FTSE 100 was 0.2% higher at 7,778 thanks to a rejected takeover 405p offer from Melrose (MRO) for GKN (GKN). Shares in the plane parts manufacturer soared 26.2% to 420.02p on the news. Melrose (MRO) was also up 5.8% to 227.5p.
Brent crude oil dipped 0.1% to $69.16 per barrel. Gold rose 0.7% to $1,329 per ounce and copper was unmoved at $3.21 per pound.
The banking sector helped the Dow Jones hit new highs after JP Morgan beats earnings expectations.
The Dow Jones traded 0.8% higher at 25,778 around 5pm UK time.
MID AND LARGE CAP RISERS AND FALLERS
Shares in engineer Smiths (SMIN) were lifted 5.4% to £16.52 on the announcement that US tax reform would cut its tax rate to between 23% and 2% from its 2019 financial year.
Housebuilder Bovis Homes (BVS) provided a much needed fillip for the sector after announcing full year results would meet forecasts, helping the stock rise 1.4% to £11.65.
B&M European Value Retail (BME) revealed its store opening strategy helped to drive sales by 22.7% in the three months to 23 December. The stock advanced 5% to 417p.
Pub operator Mitchell & Butlers (MAB) was subdued at 270.01p as bad weather in the run up to Christmas restricted sales growth to 1.6%.
Sirius Minerals (SXX) was down 2.5% at 23.3p after announcing its Woodsmith mine project in North Yorkshire was on track to deliver commercial production.
SMALL CAP RISERS AND FALLERS
A profit warning from plastic products manufacturer Coral Products (CRU) wiped off nearly a third of its market value. The company said pre-tax profit would be 'materially below market expectations' in the year to 30 April 2018.
Software specialist SDL (SDL) reported it expects approximately an 8% increase in sales in 2017, but this did not stop the stock retreating 0.2% to 429p.
XP Power (XPP) gained a 1.9% boost to £37 on the back of a large increase in fourth quarter sales and strong order book.
On AIM, Somero Enterprises (SOM) hiked its annual earnings and sales guidance, driven by higher volumes and cost management. Shares in the concrete equipment firm jumped 6% to 364.3p.
Elsewhere, Nighthawk Energy (HAWK) declined by 6.5% to 0.5p as non-routine workovers on several wells hit overall production.