Pearson recovery hopes lift FTSE 100

Pearson shot to the top of the FTSE 100 after a bullish research note from Exane BNP Paribas.

The shares rose more than 4% as Exane turned positive on the publisher's recovery strategy.

Rising metals prices underpinned mining stocks, which helped the FTSE 100 rise by 0.32% to 7,309 points at midday.

On the currency markets, the pound was 0.35% down against the dollar, but 0.08% up against the euro.

Financial stocks were also up. Standard Chartered rose 2.7% and Royal Bank of Scotland 1.8%.

"A softer pound translates into a better FTSE-appetite in London, although the overall lack of enthusiasm across the equity markets could limit gains," said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior market analyst at London Capital Group.

WPP, which has fallen sharply due to the deterioration of its advertising outlook, fell another 1.2% after Morgan Stanley downgraded the stock to "equal-weight" saying an early revival of confidence in the group's business model appeared unlikely.

Among the small caps, shares in crisis-hit construction group Carillion jumped 18.8% on speculation of a pending takeover bid. Reports linked an unnamed Middle East company as a possible bidder.

On the FTSE 250, up 0.16% at 19,535.3 points, Dairy Crest, down more than 4%, was the biggest faller.

On the Aim market, investors liked the taste of Hotel Chocolat's profits, sending the share price as high as 7% before it eased back to stand 1.7% better.

The upmarket chocolate retailer saw pre-tax profits jump 100% to £11.2m in the year to July, while revenue rose 12% to £105m.

Meanwhile, the giants of the stock market were broadly higher, with the FTSE 100 up 0.37% at 7,312.7 points.