FTSE 100 led higher by Admiral Group

Market trader (file picture) Image copyright Getty Images

(Close): The FTSE 100 reversed its earlier gains by closing down 17 points, or 0.27%, at 6,130.46.

Shares in Admiral Group, the insurer, were the biggest risers after the company reported better than expected annual results.

They closed up 9%, or 159 points, to end the day at 1919p.

The company - which also owns the price comparison website - were helped by an 11% rise in profits from car insurance.

Mining stocks also boosted the FTSE. Shares in Glencore rose 5.6%, while Anglo American climbed 1.49%.

But shares in Whitbread fell 6.15% after the firm said sales growth had slowed at its Costa coffee chain.

Like-for-like sales at Costa rose by just 0.5% in the 11 weeks to 11 February, which Whitbread blamed partly on the "unusually warm winter".

Contrasting house price reports from the Nationwide Building Society and Halifax did nothing to calm worries about the sector.

House builder Persimmon saw its shares fall 6.8% to 1998p.

The pound was up 0.5% against the dollar to $1.4151 and fell 0.2% against the euro to €1.2925.

News of weak growth in the UK's services sector weighed on the pound, with a survey registering the slowest rate of growth in the sector for nearly three years.