France's industrial output fell by 1.2% in January, well short of forecasts for a 0.1% rise, while it emerged that Greece's economy shrank at an annual rate of 5.7% at the end of last year.
The impact of the latest data was felt in European markets, with the Dax and Cac 40 both flat, but the Footsie managed to build on recent gains with an improvement of 20.05 points to 6503.63.
Analysts said official figures on Friday showing the US added 236,000 jobs in February, cutting the unemployment rate to 7.7% last month – the lowest level in four years – continued to boost sentiment in London.
The upbeat news from the world's biggest economy was offset by industrial production and retail sales figures from China, with both falling short of expectations and raising fears the growth spurt seen over the last six months may only be temporary.
The pound continued to struggle as a result of the positive US data, with sterling at a fresh 32-month low of just below 1.49 against the greenback and also slipping slightly against the euro to 1.14.
Banks were lower after the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards kept up the pressure on the Government to enforce tougher leverage ratios.
The ongoing uncertainty over the rules likely to face the sector meant Royal Bank of Scotland was 4.9p lower at 301.3p and Barclays slipped 7.1p to 311.5p.
Lloyds Banking Group, which announced plans for the sale of a 20% stake in wealth manager St James's Place after the market closed, was down 0.1p at 50p.
Accounting and retail software firm Sage was one of the biggest fallers in the top flight, off 7.5p to 341.9p, after Bank of America downgraded the stock to underperform from neutral.
Supermarket chain Morrisons moved in the opposite direction, up 5.5p to 268.5p, as investors geared up for the group's full-year results later this week.
The biggest rise in the FTSE- 250 Index came from bookmaker Ladbrokes after it unveiled a deal with software firm Playtech to reinvigorate its digital arm, including through the launch of new casino products. Ladbrokes was 14.6p higher at 239.8p, and Playtech added 18.5p to 570p.
WH Smith was also on the front foot after it seized on the opportunities presented by the collapse of HMV to stock up certain stores with leading DVDs and CDs. The shares were 28p higher at 733p.
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