- UK stocks remained underwater at midday on Tuesday as global stocks fell on mounting concerns about the spread of a new strain of coronavirus in China.

Chinese authorities confirmed that a fourth person has died and that it could be spread from person-to-person.

Investors were reminded of the economic damage done by the SARS virus in 2002-2003, particularly given the threat of contagion as hundreds of millions travel for the Lunar New Year holidays.

At 12:00, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was down 73.25 points, or 1%, at 7,578.19.

In corporate news, mining titan BHP fell 2.2% to £18.4 as it reported flat first-half production, with rising iron ore and copper output offset by falling oil and gas production.

Energy giant BP dropped 1% to 488.4p after announcing that chief financial officer Brian Gilvary would retire at the end of June and be replaced by Murray Auchincloss, currently CFO of BP's upstream segment.

Budget airline Easyjet was having a better day, ascending 4.6% to £15.16 after it upgraded its revenue outlook, citing robust passenger demand and lower competition.

Telecom company TalkTalk was off 0.5% at 113.8p as it announced the sale of its broadband business to CityFibre Infrastructure for £200m.

Dixons Carphone firmed 4.2% to 148.5p, even as it reported flat like-for-like revenue growth over the key Christmas period.

Strength in the company's electrical business had compensated for a continuing decline in mobile phones.

Broking house IG gained 0.9% to 692.2p despite reporting profit down 10% in the first half, after revenue was impacted by regulatory changes and it incurred higher expenses.

IG also announced the departure of chief financial officer Paul Mainwaring.

Travel-location convenience store group SSP firmed 3% to 684p after its first-quarter revenue rose 6.3% and it stuck to its full-year profit guidance.

Housing-sector support provider Mears rallied 2.8% to 298p on guiding for a 16% rise in underlying annual revenue, driven by its acquisition of MPS.

Mears also said it was at 'an advanced stage' in a planned sale and exit from its domiciliary care operations.

Compliance and energy services company Sureserve jumped 1.2% to 44p after it more than doubled its annual profit.

Advanced materials group Velocity Composites added 1.2% to 42p on receiving approval from Boeing to supply structural composite material kits for the aircraft manufacturer's single-isle, narrow-body jet platform.

Clinical AI technology group Sensyne Health rallied 1.8% to 49.9p even as it posted a first-half loss, owing to a rise in R&D and administrative costs.

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