Asia’s main markets all slumped early on Thursday, dragging back trading in London and elsewhere in Europe amid concern about a fresh surge of the virus following the relaxation of pandemic restrictions in China.
Resilience among financial stocks helped the FTSE finish higher, as it helped to offset weakness among miners and tobacco firms during a broadly cautious session.
The FTSE 100 finished the day up 15.53 points, or 0.21%, at 7,512.72.
Oanda analyst Craig Erlam commented: “We continue to drift into year-end with investors having little to cling on to that’s going to drive markets one way or another.
“Investors are going into 2023 with a cautious mindset, prepared for more rate hikes, and expecting recessions around the globe.”
The Dax improved 1.05% by the end of the session and the French Cac finished 0.97% higher.
In the US, the markets were lifted by a buying session for tech stocks.
The Nasdaq soared higher at the start of trading as it was boosted by a strong rise for Tesla, although it came after the Elon Musk-led business had reached a two-year low in the previous session.
Meanwhile, sterling recovered some ground against a weaker US dollar.
The pound was up 0.34% against the dollar at 1.205, and was 0.11% lower against the euro at 1.130 at the close.
In company news, Ferrexpo dropped lower on Thursday after one of its biggest shareholders was arrested in France.
Businessman and former Ukrainian MP Kostiantyn Zhevago was arrested by French police in the high-end Courchevel ski resort on Tuesday on an international arrest warrant.
The FTSE 250 firm stressed that the arrest was unrelated to the business but shares still closed 5p lower at 159.5p.
Fellow miner Antofagasta was also among the fallers after it warned investors that access to its Los Pelambres operation has been blocked by a “small group of people”.
The firm, which predominantly runs mining operations in Chile, said the site in the Coquimbo region of the country is being blocked by a group who are requesting compensation in return for allowing access again.
Shares in Antofagasta finished 34p lower at 1,552.5p as a result.
Allergy Therapeutics plunged in value after the West Sussex pharmaceutical business revealed its shares will be suspended next week following delays to the audit of its annual results.
Shares dropped by 6.375p to 5p on Thursday after the firm confirmed the stock will be suspended from Tuesday.
The price of oil finished weaker as it was impacted by concerns over higher virus cases in China.
Brent crude oil decreased by 1.42% to 82.05 US dollars per barrel when the London markets closed.
The biggest risers in the FTSE 100 were Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust, up 22p at 712p, Airtel Africa, up 2.6p at 113.6p, Ocado Group, up 12.2p at 636p, Pershing Square, up 45p at 2,925p, and Entain, up 20p at 1,329p.
The biggest fallers of the session were Antofagasta, down 34p at 1,552.5p, Anglo American, down 31.5p at 3,254.5p, Imperial Brands, down 20p at 2,076p, British American Tobacco, down 28p at 3,304.5p, and Fresnillo, down 6.2p at 885.4p.