The FTSE 100 barely moved by midday on Friday, reflecting caution after sharp gains in the previous session and ahead of the final reading of U.S. jobs data before the presidential election.
By 1121 a.m., the FTSE 100 <.FTSE> was down 1.56 points at 5,860.36, having traded in a 20-point range all morning.
"It is a normal non-farm payrolls day, nothing happens in the morning and then it will go bonkers this afternoon," Dan Reed, a trader at HB markets, said.
The U.S. jobs data, the last major economic release before the country's presidential election on November 6, is forecast to show non-farm payrolls rose 125,000 in October, after a 114,000 increase in September, although the unemployment rate is seen ticking up to 7.9 percent after a fall to 7.8 percent.
"If you're taking a lead off the employment data for the week we should all be expecting it to be slightly better again. Last month's was good, so is that going to continue for the election or are we going to see a little weakness? I think this month's is a tricky one to forecast," Reed said.
U.S. futures indicated a flat open on Wall Street.
In subdued markets -- the FTSE 100 had traded around 30 percent of its already weak 90-day average by 1121 a.m. -- the UK's most notable movers were driven by results.
"This is an unappealing outlook for a stock on a (price earnings ratio) premium to the market," said Investec analyst Kevin Ryan.
Admiral trades with a 12-month forward price-to-earnings of 12 times, compared with RSA Insurance
Revenues remain a worry for investors in European companies as a whole, with 50 percent of corporates missing revenue expectations so far in the current quarter, according to Thomson Reuters Starmine Data.
Royal Bank of Scotland
Like Admiral, valuation remains a concern for some potential investors in RBS.
"With investors having to second-guess politicians, as well as forecast earnings, before they can invest in RBS we prefer to buy shares when the stock and the sector are demonstrably oversold/out of favour," Canaccord Genuity said in a note.
The broker added that at 0.48 times price to book it estimates the market is pricing in a return on equity of around 5.8 percent, which consensus does not have the group achieving until 2015.
Third-quarter earnings from European companies have slightly lagged behind their U.S. counterparts, with 57 percent of the firms that have already reported results meeting or beating predictions, against 68 percent in the United States.
On the upside, Aberdeen Asset Management
Barclays also upgraded Jupiter Fund Management
(Written by David Brett. Editing by Jeremy Gaunt.)