FTSE 100 CLOSE: Wolseley leads fallers after weak US numbers

The early gains seen in the FTSE 100 were reversed by the end of Tuesday’s session as weak economic numbers from the US outweighed reassuring comments from the head of the Federal Reserve.

Today ended with the index down 33.15 points to 5,869.55. Falls were led by a mixed bag of stocks, including building materials firms, gold miners and airlines.

Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Fed, suggested today that the central bank will maintain stimulative policies to help growth despite improving employment numbers.

However, the US Conference Board reported a slight fall in consumer confidence and the Case-Shiller housing index showed US house prices continued to fall in January.

Building and heating materials group Wolseley was the day’s biggest faller, retreating 3.33% to 2,435p despite reporting a rise in pre-tax profits for the six months to the end of January.

Oil and gas company BG Group dropped 2.90% to 1,475p and gold mining stock Randgold Resources eased 2.68% to 5,625p. International Consolidated Airlines fell 2.57% to 178.2p while catering firm Compass Group was down 2.54% to 651p.

Royal Bank of Scotland led the day’s strongest gainers, followed by asset manager Schroders, copper miner Kazakhmys, hospitality group Whitbread and financial services provider Barclays.