Shares edge down despite IAG lift-off after new boss named
Top flight shares struggled for direction, even after British Airways owner International Airlines Group (IAG) upgraded its targets and announced a new boss at the UK carrier.
IAG boosted its average earnings per year by 12% to 5.6 billion euro (£4 billion), adding that the chief executive of low-cost airline Vueling, Alex Cruz, will replace retiring Keith Williams as chairman and chief executive of British Airways next April.
The FTSE 100 Index fell 11.1 points to 6353.8, in a lacklustre session which saw traders largely unmoved by the announcement of strong US new job numbers in October.
IAG lifted 21.5p at 602p.
France's Cac 40 was up 0.1%, while Germany's DAX rose 0.9%.
The pound is down a cent against the US dollar at just over 1.51, after US employers created 271,000 jobs in October, a robust figure following two weak months, which may set the stage for the Federal Reserve to hike interest rates next month. Sterling was a cent up against the euro at 1.40.
BHP Billiton was the strongest faller in the top flight after a dam burst at a Brazilian iron-ore operation, called Samarco, it jointly owns with Brazil's Vale.
There are reports of fatalities and injuries to more than 30 people at the site, which produces around 30 million tonnes of iron ore a year.
BHP Billiton said: "We are in the process of obtaining more details from Samarco."
Shares at BHP Billiton fell almost 6%, or 59p at 975p.
Elsewhere, telecoms group TalkTalk was a strong riser in the FTSE 250 after it said the details of 156,959 customers and 15,656 bank account numbers were accessed in last month's cyber attack. This is much less than the millions of details that had been feared.
But the telecoms firm emphasised the "information accessed cannot on its own lead to financial loss".
Although the decision was taken to tell all TalkTalk customers of the security breach, the company says that only 4% of its customers have any sensitive personal data at risk.
Shares in TalkTalk rose more than 2%, or 5.2p, to 226.1p.
Back in the top flight drug giant AstraZeneca agreed to buy US firm ZS Pharma in a 2.7 billion dollar (£1.8 billion) cash deal, to strengthen its portfolio in cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.
It will give UK-based AstraZeneca access to a drug that could potentially treat the life-threatening condition hyperkalaemia.
The drug, ZS-9, is under regulatory review by the US Food and Drug Administration.
Shareholders in ZS Pharma will receive 90 dollars (£59) per share, which represents a 42% premium compared to Thursday's close price.
Shares in AstraZeneca fell 21p to 4226p.
The biggest risers in the FTSE 100 Index were Intercontinental Hotels Group up 162p at 2774p, IAG up 21.5p at 602p, CRH up 65p at 1861p and Inmarsat up 31.5p at 1005p.
The biggest fallers in the FTSE 100 Index were BHP Billiton down 59p at 975p, Glencore down 5.7p at 115.9p, Randgold Resources down 150p at 3971p and National Grid 33.1p at 894.2p.