StockMarketWire.com - UK stocks eked out modest gains in early trading on Tuesday, recovering only a small portion of Monday's heavy losses sparked by concerns about the continuing spread of the deadly coronavirus.

At 0856, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was up 16.33 points, or 0.2%, at 7.428.38.

Irn-bru maker AG Barr fizzed 14% higher to 619.5p after it guided for a full-year profit within the top end of market forecasts, amid signs of progress on efforts to turnaround its business following a challenging summer.

Consumer goods group PZ Cussons dropped 0.7% to 193.2p, as it reported a fall in underlying first-half profit, pinned on tough trading conditions in Nigeria and weakness in Australia and the UK.

Food delivery company and takeover target Just Eat edged up 0.2% to 857.6p, on forecasting earnings within the top end of its expectations and confirming a partnership with McDonald's.

House builder Crest Nicholson firmed 2.3% to 450.4p, even as it reported a fall in profit.

Crest Nicholson said it had sold fewer homes at lower prices amid a shift in focus to more affordable housing.

Virgin Money UK gained 0.9% to 166.95p, despite its mortgage book shrinking in the first quarter, though its interest margins stabilised and deposit and business lending volumes grew.

Water utility Severn Trent rose 0.3% to £25.89 after it said it expected to raise its annual dividend at least in line with the UK inflation rate, estimated this year at around 1.5%.

Over-50s focused services group Saga advanced 3.7% to 43.3p, having guided for an annual underlying profit performance in line with previous expectations despite 'a challenging external environment' in the insurance and travel markets.

Retirement home developer and manager McCarthy & Stone added 0.3% to 154.3p, even as it booked a 25% fall in annual profit, citing a challenging market backdrop and strategic structural changes.

Mortgage advisory group Mortgage Advice Bureau rallied 13% to 785p as its annual revenue rose 16%, though it also said that political uncertainty related to Brexit had lowered per-adviser sales rates.

Convenience foods group Greencore weakened by 0.3% to 247.5p as its revenue rose a modest 1.8% in the first quarter.

Digital marketing and communications group Next 15 shed 1.9% to 512p, on warning that it would report a full-year adjusted profit marginally below its previous expectations.

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