* FTSE 100 up 0.4 pct
* Lloyds up after M&A news
* Carnival rises after results
* Precious metals miners (ADVISORY- Follow European and UK stock markets in real time on the Reuters Live Markets blog on Eikon, see cpurl://apps.cp./cms/?pageId=livemarkets)
By Kit Rees and Alistair Smout
LONDON, Dec 20 (Reuters) - Britain’s top share index rose to a two-month high on Tuesday, helped by gains in Carnival and strength in the bank sector after Lloyds rose after a deal to buy a credit card business.
The blue chip FTSE 100 index was up 0.4 percent at 7,043.96 points by the close, slightly underperforming euro zone blue chips.
It hit its highest level since October 25, with blue chips supported by a drop in sterling to a 1-month low.
Banking stock Lloyds was among the top gainers, up 2.2 percent following its deal to buy the MBNA credit card business from Bank of America for 1.9 billion pounds ($2.4 billion) in an effort to increase profit and reduce its reliance on mortgage lending.
“The anticipated financial performance and shareholder value creation that is expected to be generated by this transaction is impressive, in our view, and suggests a better use of capital than simply returning it to shareholders,” Gary Greenwood, analyst at Shore Capital, said in a note.
Fellow bank Barclays rose 2.5 percent, with Royal Bank of Scotland up 1.4 percent.
Top individual riser was Carnival, which ended up 3 percent after reporting results in the middle of the session.
The world’s largest cruise operator reported higher-than-expected quarterly revenue and profit, helped by an increase in ticket prices and onboard spending.
Precious metals miners were on the back-foot, with Fresnillo and Randgold Resources down 2.1 percent and 1.2 percent as the price of gold eased.
The likes of Antofagasta and Glencore turned higher after early falls, though some thought a recent rally was running out of steam.
“Towards the year-end ... some fund managers (are) looking to book profits on stocks that have performed very well. If we take a look at some of the more diversified miners, they’ve seen aggressive moves this year,” Dafydd Davies, partner at Charles Hanover Investments, said.
British miners are up nearly 95 percent this year, led by mid cap Hochschild, which has surged nearly 300 percent, and Anglo American, which has gained more than 270 percent.
Outside of the blue chips, Paysafe jumped over 5 percent after announcing a buyback of up to 100 million pounds sterling. (Editing by Angus MacSwan)