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A series of positive announcements from companies including International Consolidated Airlines, Marks & Spencer and Smith & Nephew weren’t enough to offset wider negativity on European stock markets this morning, with the FTSE 100 slipping amid falls in global commodity prices.

Pearson topped the index after the education group announced a series of new restructuring measures, but British Airways owner IAG also clocked up a healthy rise after beating profit forecasts in the first quarter. It was the second biggest riser on the FTSE 100 and All-Share, with shares rising 6.3 per cent to 608p.

Shares in budget rival EasyJet also climbed 3.1 per cent, after the company reported a 7.8 per cent increase in passenger numbers in the year to April, as well as an increase in the proportion of seats filled.

Investors also welcomed news that industry veteran Archie Norman will take over as chairman at Marks & Spencer. Shares in the company rose 3.5 per cent to 370p.

Analysts at Shore Capital said Mr Norman “led one of the greatest turnarounds in British commercial history at Asda” in the 1990s, and said his leadership alongside chief executive Steve Rowe “should be a force for good for M&S”.

Management changes didn’t make such good news for InterContinental Hotels group, however, with the company among the worst performers on the FTSE 100 after the company announced chief executive Richard Solomons is retiring.

Signs of recovery in Smith & Nephew’s emerging markets businesses, meanwhile, sent shares in the medical device maker up 2.4 per cent.

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