A drop in Britain's unemployment rate sent the pound sharply higher today amid mounting expectations that interest rates will rise sooner than predicted.
Official figures showed unemployment falling to 2.49 million in the three months to July, while the closely-watched jobless rate eased to 7.7% from 7.8%, putting pressure on the Bank of England's pledge to hold rates at their record low until the unemployment rate falls to 7%.
As investors bet on rates rising before the bank's 2016 guidance, sterling leapt to a seven-month high against the US dollar and a nine-month record on the euro - at 1.58 dollars and 1.19 euros - although the FTSE 100 Index failed to gather momentum, edging 4.4 points higher to 6588.4.
Chip designer ARM Holdings was at the top of the FTSE 100 risers board as it benefited from excitement over the launch of Apple's iPhone 5S.
Deutsche Bank kept its buy rating on the stock and said the launch was significant for the Cambridge-based company as Apple's new device has the first mobile application processor to use ARM's v8 64-bit design.
ARM's shares rose 45.5p to 986.5p, a gain of 5%.
But Apple was suffering reverse fortunes on Wall Street, down almost 6% in early trading due to fears that its new cheaper model will still be too costly for many buyers in emerging markets.
Market heavyweight Vodafone was also higher amid speculation that its takeover offer for Kabel Deutschland is in danger of collapse if it fails to get the support of three-quarters of shareholders by tonight's deadline. Shares were 2.3p higher at 210.2p.
Meanwhile a number of stocks were trading without the right to the latest dividend payment. They included car insurer Admiral, which fell 53p to 1227p, and security group G4S with a drop of 5p to 254.3p.
Retail chain Sports Direct International celebrated its imminent promotion to the top tier of London companies by producing another batch of strong sales figures.
Its elevation to the FTSE 100 Index was accompanied by an 18% rise in group sales to £613.3 million in the 13 weeks to July 28.
The company's shares floated at 300p in February 2007 and went as low as 32p the following year but its market value now stands at £4.3 billion after a 70% surge in shares so far this year. The stock was 13.5p higher at 729p today.
Sports Direct is joined on the list for entrance into the top tier by packaging and paper group Mondi and Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company. They will replace outsourcing firm Serco, oil and gas services firm John Wood Group and miner Eurasian Natural Resources.
The changes, which are based on last night's closing prices, will take place on September 23.
The biggest FTSE 100 risers were ARM Holdings up 45.5p to 986.5p, Glencore Xstrata 10.25p ahead at 339p, Experian 26p higher at 1189p and Tullow Oil 16p up at 1073p.
The biggest FTSE 100 fallers Admiral Group down 53p to 1227p, Kingfisher off 11.5p to 408.5p, Lloyds Banking Group 2p lower at 76p and easyJet down 33p to 1325p.