- UK stocks rapidly recovered early losses on Wednesday amid reports of possible breakthroughs finding treatments for the deadly coronavirus, though tobacco giant Imperial Brands sank on a profit warning.

At 0940, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was up 59.28 points, or 0.8% at 7.499.10, having earlier fallen around 0.4%.

Earlier, Imperial Brands dropped 8.8% to £17.8193 after warning of annual adjusted earnings 'slightly lower' than last year following a US ban on vaping products.

Telecom group Vodafone rose 0.4% to 151.82p as it reiterated its full-year earnings guidance after it grew its revenue by 6.8% in the third quarter.

Packaging company Smurfit Kappa rallied 4.7% to £28.46 as it swung to a full-year profit, having recovered from a big writedown on its Venezuelan assets in the previous year.

Dominos Pizza gained 5.8% to 314.3p as it reported a 3.7% rise in fourth-quarter sales.

The pizza-delivery company, however, also warned of a £20m loss across its Nordic assets.

House builder Barratt Developments gained 3.9% to 853.2p, as it posted a 3.4% rise in first-half profit, underpinned by higher sales and stronger margins.

Rival house builder Redrow was flat at 822p, having posted a less-impressive 15% fall in first-half profit, pinned on its completing a smaller number of homes.

Redrow also announced that executive chairman John Tutte would step down to the role of non-executive chairman in July before retiring ahead of the company's 2021 annual general meeting.

Residential property investor Grainger firmed 0.3% to 298.4p on the back of a rise in rental growth, driven by improving housing market sentiment following the UK general election in December.

Defence contractor Babcock International shed 0.5% to 599.4p on news that chief executive Archie Bethel had decided to retire after 16 years at the helm.

Bethel would remain as CEO until a successor had been put in place.

On a big day for executive departures, United Utilities reversed 0.6% to 988.8p, on announcing the pending retirement of chief financial officer Russ Houlden in July.

At the smaller-company end of the market, UK motor retailer Lookers advanced 0.3% to 54.74p, even as new car sales fell 6.6% in the fourth quarter, though used cars sales remained steady.

Payments company PCI-PAL added 1.2% to 42.99p after it forecast annual revenue growth of more than 70% after it won new contracts.

Enterprise mobile computing group Touchstar jumped 20% to 52.75p after it upgraded its profit expectations thanks to a bounce in shipments to customers.

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