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Shares in Wolseley rocket as trading outpaces forecasts

WOLSELEY, the building supplies group, saw its shares surge yesterday, despite reporting a loss, as headline numbers for the first half of the year beat expectations.<br /><br />The company, which is fighting a massive slump in the housing market, reported pre-tax losses for the year to 31 July of &pound;766m, down from a profit of &pound;399m last year.<br /><br />But Wolseley, which has axed around 30,000 of its 80,000 staff in the past two years, still beat analyst expectations with its results. <br /><br />&ldquo;In the second half of the financial year the decline in our sales will be less bad than in the first half,&rdquo; chief financial officer Steve Webster said yesterday.<br /><br />But the company, which trades as Build Center and Plumb Center around the UK, added that the industry was floundering, and was likely to remain under strain for the remainder of the year.<br /><br />The stock made its biggest gain since March on the back of the news, rising by 10.9 per cent to &pound;14.51 per share. Wolseley recently raised &pound;1bn&nbsp; in a rights issue.