- The FTSE 100 advanced almost 50 points to 7,532 in early morning trading as fears surrounding the coronavirus softened amid reports of a vaccine.

The rise was also supported by news of cuts to Chinese tariffs on US goods following the 'phase one' trade agreement between the two countries.

The Christmas period and UK general election proved a busy time for Royal Mail, which has said its adjusted operating profit for 2019-20 is expected to be £300-340 million and reported revenue growth of 3.7%.

The group, however, saw its share price plummet in early morning trading, falling more than 8% to 173.6p as it faces renewed industrial action.

Emerging markets asset manager Ashmore reported a jump in profit as net asset increased on inflows and positive investment performance which boosted its share price by almost 2% to 563p.

For the six months ending 31 December 2019, pre-tax profit rose 42% to £132.4m and adjusted net revenue grew 20% driven by an 18% increase in net management fees.

Assets under management (AuM) increased 28% on-year and 7% in the first half of the year to $98.4bn, supported by net inflows of US$5.7bn and positive investment performance of $0.9bn.

The interim dividend per share was up 5% to 4.80p.

Meanwhile, Compass said it expected growth within the midpoint of its guidance and reported that revenue rose 5.3% in the three months through December last year, led by performance in its North American business.

Its share price increased 2.5% in early trading, reaching £19.56.

Tate & Lyle saw solid growth in North America and Europe, Middle East and Africa in the final three months of 2019, but sales growth suffered in Asia Pacific and Latin America.

According to its latest trading update for the three months ended December 31, 2019, the group's underlying performance was consistent with the first half and in line with expectations.

This morning's announcement saw the group's share price to rise slightly to 809.2p.

Insurance company Beazley more than trebled profit for the year as strong investment returns offset a higher combined ratio amid heightened claims activity.

For the year ended 31 December 2019, pre-tax profit rose to $267.7m from $76.4m and gross premiums written increased by 15% to $3bn year-on-year. Beazleys share price surged more than 5% to 566p on the back of the announcement.

Elsewhere, Auto Trader has said Trevor Mather chief executive officer would retire at the end of February, earlier than expected, as the transition to the new executive team had progressed well.

Mather was previously expected to retire at the end of March.

Nathan Coe, chief financial officer and CEO-designate would be appointed as CEO with effect from 1 March 2020.

Jamie Warner, currently Auto Trader's CFO-designate, would join the board with effect from 1 March 2020 as CFO.

Colour cosmetics supplier and owner of the W7 and Technic brands, Warpaint London, has announced a collaboration with a leading UK supermarket group to sell a core range of W7 branded products, in over 50 stores across the UK. Its shares rose 3.6% to 82.9p.

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