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(Close): Shares in London were slightly higher at close helped by a 8% jump for insurance giant Standard Life.

Its shares surged after announcing the sale of its Canadian business to Canada's Manulife Financial for £2.2bn.

Supergroup was the biggest winner on the FTSE 250, up 14%, after the fashion retailer said that sales jumped 16% in the three months to the end of July.

Paddy Power shares fell 0.38% after Ireland's biggest bookmaker named Andy McCue as its next chief executive.

Overall the FTSE 100 was up 0.06%, adding to Wednesday's gains when the index closed at a 14-year high.

The European Central Bank (ECB) supplied a surprise for the financial markets when it the eurozone's benchmark interest rate to 0.05%.

It also launched a stimulus programme under which it will buy debt products backed by mortgages and other loans from banks.

The ECB hopes that will encourage banks to boost lending.

The move provoked a sharp response on the currency market where the euro fell by more than a cent against the dollar to $1.3025.

Bank of England

In a less surprising announcement, the Bank of England decided to keep interest rates on hold at 0.5%, where they have been since March 2009.

Investors will be keen to see the minutes of that interest rate meeting which will be released next week.

The minutes will show how the committee that sets interest rates voted.

At the last meeting two members out of nine voted in favour of raising the cost of borrowing.

On the currency markets the pound was down 0.69% at $1.63470.