StockMarketWire.com - UK stocks opened moderately higher on Wednesday as a fall in the rate of new coronavirus cases stoked hopes the worst of the outbreak my be over.

At 0819, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was up 4.36 points at 7.503.80.

Homewares retailer Dunelm rallied 3.8% to £12.46 after it reported a 19% rise in first-half profit and upped its annual guidance, on the back of higher footfall driving increased sales.

Defence contractor Babcock International lost 2.2% to 544.6p, even as it upwardly tweaked its annual operating profit guidance.

The company, however, also warned of an £85m exceptional charge in its aviation and oil divisions.

Contracts-for-difference trader Plus500 rose 2.6% to 934p, despite having posted a 62% drop in annual profit, blaming calm market conditions.

Plus500 said increased market volatility had driven an improved performance in the second half, with the momentum continuing into the current year.

Supermarket chain Sainsbury's was broadly flat at 202.4p after announcing that the chairman of its banking unit, Roger Davis, was standing down.

Healthcare facility investor Primary Health Properties shed 0.8% to 160.32p, as it swung to a full-year loss owing to negative asset revaluations, though its adjusted earnings improved and it lifted its dividend 3.7%.

Polymetal International fell 0.5% to £12.88, despite it announcing a doubling of the ore reserves estimate at its Kutyn gold project in Russia.

Flooring retailer United Carpets was flat at 5.12p, having warned that its annual profit would miss current market expectations after a hoped-for bounce back after the decisive UK election result failed to materialise.

Bonding products maker for the industrial and healthcare sectors Scapa sank 32% to 184.53p after it warned its annual profit would fall short of market expectations, citing cost pressures.

Language services provider RWS gained 6.2% to 600.24p on announcing that it was on course to deliver results in line with its expectations, and generate more cash than it had hoped, following several contract wins. Story provided by StockMarketWire.com