Hopes that US political leaders are closer to a crucial budget deal to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff" lifted London's leading shares index today.

President Barack Obama last night boosted confidence as he said a deal could be reached to avoid the automatic tax rises and spending cuts before Christmas.

The FTSE 100 Index was 31 points higher at 5835, following a strong performance on Asian markets with Japan's Nikkei 225, Hong Kong's Hang Seng and South Korea's Kospi all higher.

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The improved sentiment lifted heavily-weighted mining stocks with Eurasian Natural Resources ahead 7.4p at 272.5p, Rio Tinto up 81.5p at 3022p and Evraz advancing 6.1p at 237.5p.

In corporate news, B&Q owner Kingfisher sank to near the bottom of the FTSE 100 after it revealed worse-than-expected 4% drop in like-for-like sales at the DIY chain.

While the decline was still an improvement on the 6% fall seen in the first half of the year, the third-quarter sales failed to meet City expectations of a 1% dip. Shares were 1% or 3.4p lower at 277.1p.

Outside the top flight, Dixons Retail saw shares edge lower to 25.9p as it unveiled an underlying pre-tax loss of £22.2 million in the 24 weeks to October 13, down from a £25.3 million loss in the same period last year.