European stocks gained on Tuesday due a further drop in oil prices.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares closed up 2.6% at 1,182.31 points. However, the index is down 22% on the year to date.
Around Europe, Germany's DAX index gained 2.7% and France's CAC 40 added 2.5%.
In Britain, the FTSE 100 index closed up 134.3 points, or 2.5%, at 5,454.5. However, index is still down 16% so far this year.
Shares in Royal Bank of Scotland gained 7.2%, Barclays was up 8.8%, HBOS soared 12% and Lloyds TSB rose 10.7%.
Swiss Re, the world's largest reinsurer, agreed to buy Barclays' life assurance portfolio for Â£753 million in cash.
The US Federal Reserve announced at 1815 GMT that it was keeping interest rates unchanged at 2%.
The Bank of England is due to announce its rate verdict on Thursday and is also expected to stay on hold. The current rate is 5%.
NZ & Australian markets lower
The NZX Top 50 index closed down 23 points on Tuesday, to 3295 on turnover of $74 million.
Fletcher Building was up 7 cents to $6.35, Sky Television up 1c to $4.67, Telecom down 9c to $3.67 and The Warehouse down 2c to $3.40.
In currency markets, at 5.08pm the dollar was trading at US72.57 cents, 78.51 Australian cents, 37.04 pence, 78.55 yen and 0.4675 euro. The Trade Weighted Index stood at 65.52.
The Australian share market also closed lower. The S&P/ASX200 index was 67.3 points, or 1.38%, lower at 4820.4, while the broader All Ordinaries shed 75.6 points, or 1.52% to 4882.
At 1615 AEST on the Sydney Futures Exchange, the September share price index contract was 48 points lower at 4813, on a volume of 36,199 contracts.
The banks were stronger, with ANZ adding 56c to $A17.01, National Australia Bank putting on 55c to $A24.75, Commonwealth Bank gaining $A1.57 to $A41.25 and Westpac climbing 82c higher to $A21.84.
Japanese shares close lower
Japanese share prices closed down 0.14%.
The Nikkei-225 index slipped 18.52 points to end at 12,914.66 on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. The broader Topix index of all first-section shares declined 0.54 points or 0.04% to 1247.71.