The FTSE 100 gained ground by lunchtime after a sleepy start, up 0.4% to 7,447.96 on a sharp increase in Chinese exports.

US futures pointed to a higher open on Wall Street as big banks JP Morgan and Wells Fargo prepared to kick off the US first quarter earnings season. LARGE AND MID CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

Contracts-for-difference broking house Plus500 tumbled 27.4% as its first-quarter revenue plunged 82%, owing to 'extremely subdued' trading in financial markets.

Bus and train company National Express gained 0.7% after it announced that it had bought a 60% stake in Silicon Valley employee shuttle service WeDriveU for $84.3m.

Table top game retailer Games Workshop rallied 11.8% as it forecast a rise in annual profit amid higher royalty income.

Provident Financial continued its war of word with hostile bidder Non-Standard Financial, saying that it was 'gravely concerned' that Non-Standard had not answered questions about its bid.

Provident shares advanced 0.2% while Non-Standard shares were flat.

SMALL CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

Struggling womens' fashion retailer Bonmarche dipped 2.3% after it urged its shareholders to reject an 11.445p takeover bid from billionaire Philip Day that valued the company at around £5.7m.

Mining group Tri-Star Resources gained 2.4% on news that both its chief executive and chairman were standing down.

Mobile phone games distributor Mobile Streams fell 18.2% after it announced it would cut its headcount by a 'significant' amount to offset falling revenue.