Shrinking economy shakes market but Wolseley grows

WEAKER than expected consumer confidence figures in the US drove some shares lower yesterday, with banks, miners and food retailers leading the fallers. The FTSE 100 shed one per cent, or 44.82 points, to close at 4,249.21.<br /><br />But the index is up 8.2 per cent on the quarter, the best such performance since the final quarter of 2003 and it has gained 22.8 per cent since touching a six-year low on 9 March.<br /><br />UK figures have revealed the economy contracted at a much sharper pace than initially thought, falling by 2.4 per cent in the first quarter, revised down from a fall of 1.9 per cent<br /><br />Falling crude prices at under $70 a barrel helped send oil majors lower. <strong>BG Group, BP</strong> and <strong>Royal Dutch Shell</strong> fell between 1 and 1.8 per cent.<br /><br />Miners dropped between 0.5 and 3.1 per cent, with <strong>Randgold Resources, Anglo American, Fresnillo, Eurasian Natural Resources</strong> and <strong>Xstrata</strong> the biggest fallers.<br /><br />Banks also headed south with <strong>Lloyds Banking Group, Royal Bank of Scotland, HSBC</strong> and <strong>Standard Chartered</strong> shed between 0.9 and 3 per cent. However, <strong>Barclays</strong> was an exception, up 1.2 per cent.<br /><br /><strong>Astrazeneca</strong> fell 1 per cent after the company and its drug development partner Pozen submitted their experimental two-in-one pain drug PN400 for regulatory approval in the US.<br /><br />Also on the downside, life insurers <strong>Prudential</strong> and <strong>Legal and General</strong> fell 0.6 to 2.2 per cent, retreating from some strong gains made on Monday.<br /><br />Meanwhile building supplies company <strong>Wolseley</strong> topped the FTSE 100 risers after it announced chief executive Chip Hornsby would step down with immediate effect. The stock rose 2.8 per cent.<br /><br />The world&rsquo;s biggest security firm <strong>G4S</strong> and credit information firm <strong>Experian</strong> gained 0.2 and 0.9 per cent respectively.<br /><br />Oil services group <strong>Petrofac</strong> rose 1.8 per cent. The company said it expects to start production from the Don Southwest field in the UK North Sea in the next few days. Peer AMEC climbed 2 per cent.<br /><br /><strong>Thomas Cook</strong> added 2.8 per cent after news the German government said it would give aid to its majority German shareholder Arcandor. <br /><br />Looking ahead a quarterly poll of 13 strategists showed the FTSE 100 index is expected to end the year up by around 3.7 per cent. <br /><br /><strong>Marks &amp; Spencer</strong> could give retailers a lift today when it releases its first quarter interim statement.