LONDON, Dec 10 (Reuters) - Futures pointed to a slightly lower open for B ritain’s FTSE 100 index, with the December contact down 0.1 percent by 0721 GMT.
* Earlier, financial bookmakers had forecast the UK benchmark stock index would open up 5-12 points. For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on
* The UK blue chip index closed up 12.98 points, or 0.2 percent, at 5,914.40 on Friday, after data showed U.S. non-farm employment increased by a better-than-expected 146,000 jobs last month.
* Over the weekend, Chinese data sent mixed messages on the economy, with factory output and retail sales beating expectations with strong rises in November, but imports flatlining and exports coming in much weaker than forecast.
* The euro zone crisis was set to remain in the spotlight after Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti announced on Saturday that he would resign once the 2013 budget is approved, potentially bringing forward an election due early next year and fuelling speculation that he might run.
* Greece will extend a debt buyback that forms part of its international bailout for an extra day to receive additional offers from bondholders, a government official said on Monday..
* British firms hired permanent staff through recruitment agencies at the fastest rate since April 2011 last month, and the number of unfilled posts rose strongly too, a survey showed on Monday.
* BAE SYSTEMS : The UK’s Ministry of Defence said on Monday it has awarded a 1.2 billion pound ($1.92 billion) submarine contract to British defense contractor BAE Systems.
* DIAGEO : The drinks group has held talks with Japanese brewer Suntory about making a joint bid to acquire bourbon whiskey maker Beam for more than $10 billion, Britain’s Sunday Telegraph reported, citing unnamed sources.
* A.G. BARR : Year to date revenue as of Dec . 1 has increased by 6.5 percent, growing f aster than the p rior year, and the firm remains confident of delivering our plans for the full year.
* GREGGS : Chief e xecutive Ken McMeikan has informed the b oard of his intention to leave Greggs to take up the position of c h ief e x ecutive of Brakes Group.
* HSBC : Fitch Ratings downgraded the Long-term issuer default rating of HSBC Holdings plc to ‘AA-’ from ‘AA’ and revised its rating outlook to stable from negative.
* BETFAIR : Chief Executive Breon Corcoran is expected to announce plans to slash about 20 million pounds in costs at the online gambling operator this week, according to the Sunday Times.
* DE LA RUE : British media speculates that the company could lose its UK bank notes business, after the Bank of England put out to tender a 14-year 1 billion pound contract.
* AIRLINES: A deal in which American airline Delta could purchase Singapore Airlines’ 49 percent stake in British carrier Virgin Atlantic, and where Air France-KLM buys up most of Virgin founder Richard Branson’s 51 percent stake, could be finalised early next week according to the Sunday Times. [ID:nL5 E8N91G9]
* PEARSON : New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is weighing up whether to make a bid for Pearson’s The Financial Times Group, which includes the namesake paper and a half interest in The Economist magazine, the New York Times reported, citing three people close to the mayor.
* BANKS: Both the United States and United Kingdom have developed viable approaches to seizing and unwinding failing global financial institutions, but more work is needed on the UK side to ensure that losses can be adequately absorbed, American and UK regulators said on Sunday.
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