StockMarketWire.com - UK stocks opened substantially higher on Friday after the World Health Organisation stopped short of calling a coronavirus outbreak originating in China a global health emergency.

At 0845, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was up 98.34 points, or 1.3%, at 7.606.01.

China's decision to lock down entire cities in a bid to contain the deadly virus had previously been weighing on market sentiment.

In local corporate news, food deliver platform Just Eat slipped 3.5% to 851p after UK antitrust regulators announced a last-minute probe into its acquisition by Holland's Takeaway.com.

Pub and brewing company Marston's slumped 6.3% to 109.82p as it reported lackluster sales growth and warned of higher employment costs.

Mortgage lender Virgin Money rallied 7.0% to 178.2p, having announced that chairman Jim Pettigrew was planning to retire by September 2021.

Medical technology company Smith and Nephew gained 1.5% to 19.08 as it acquired US-based ear tube group Tusker Medical, for an undisclosed sum.

Management advisory group Norman Broadbent jumped 21% to 9.5p, having forecast a return to profit in 2019, thanks to an improved performance in the second half that saw revenue rise by more than a fifth.

Online property portal OnTheMarket advanced 0.6% to 71.9p on signing a listing agreement with house builder Bellway.

EasyHotel gained 2.9% to 90p, even as it swung to an annual loss as the budget hotel chain wrote down the value of a property in Ipswich.

EasyHotel's adjusted earnings, however, jumped 42% on the back of a 56% rise in revenue.

SQN Asset Finance Income Fund firmed 1.1% to 63.8p after it flagged a strategic review of its operations 'in light of recent events'.

The company recently delayed the publication of its net asset value while it reviewed the value of its investment in Anaerobic Digestion and warned of potential impairments.

Inland Homes added 1.3% to 92.15p as it signed a contract with Octavia Housing, a provider of affordable housing, to develop Afrex House, in Alperton, north-west London.

Intellectual property investor Tekcapital rose 2.0% to 6.25p after portfolio company and low-sodium salt group Salarius secured a US supply agreement with food ingredient broker Hanks Brokerage.

Story provided by StockMarketWire.com